Birth asphyxia occurs when an infant does not receive an adequate supply of oxygen before, during, or immediately following birth. Without oxygen, cells cannot work properly. Acids build up in the cells and may cause temporary or permanent damage to the infant. The amount of harm caused to the infant depends on how long and how severe the period of asphyxia, and how quickly the proper treatment is administered. Some causes of birth asphyxia may include:
- Insufficient oxygen in the mother's blood before or during child birth
- Problems with the placenta separating from the uterus too soon
- Infant's blood cells cannot carry enough oxygen, known as anemia
- Problems with the umbilical cord during delivery
- High or low blood pressure in the mother
- Serious infection in the mother or infant
- Infant's airway is not properly formed
- Infant's airway is blocked
- Very long or difficult child birth process
Birth asphyxia injuries may occur in two stages. The first stage occurs within minutes of oxygen deprivation. Cell damage occurs with the initial lack of blood flow and oxygen. The second stage of injury is called "reperfusion injury" which may last for days or even weeks. This type of injury occurs after the restoration of normal blood flow and oxygen to the infant's brain, and is due to toxins released from the damaged cells.
Infants whose cells did not receive a proper amount of oxygen for a longer time may have permanent injury to their brain, heart, lungs, kidneys, bowels or other organs. When a premature baby has asphyxia, the damage could cause cerebral palsy, developmental disabilities, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or impaired vision. In severe cases, asphyxia can lead to organ failure and even death. Common symptoms of birth asphyxia include:
- Infant is not breathing or breathing is very weak
- Poor muscle tone or reflexes are weak
- Skin color is bluish or pale
- Pressure on umbilical cord
- Low heart rate
- Low maternal blood pressure
- Too much acid in the blood
- Amniotic fluid is stained with meconium
- Infant is experiencing seizures
Contact an Asphyxia Attorney
Birth asphyxia can be associated with the lack of quality medical care, or a medical mistake during the childbirth process. Physicians are trained to recognize symptoms of birth asphyxia. When these symptoms are not diagnosed, an infant could sustain serious neurological problems or even die. In these types of cases, a parent could have a viable medical malpractice lawsuit.
If you believe your infant has sustained a birth injury due to the negligent acts of a medical professional, you need to understand your legal rights. At the law offices of Dr. Bruce G. Fagel & Associates, we are experienced birth injury attorneys who can assist you in obtaining the financial compensation you deserve.
Dr. Fagel has been successfully representing victims in birth injury cases for decades. He is both a medical malpractice lawyer and a licensed physician. He has successfully handled more medical malpractice cases than any other attorney in California. Our experienced birth injury attorneys can review the medical records of the delivery to see if appropriate monitoring of the baby and mother was performed, appropriate tests were undertaken when necessary, proper treatment was rendered when required, and whether there was adequate care of the baby after birth. If you would like to discuss your legal options, contact our office anytime.