The Health Effects of Hypoxia at Birth
Every birth is an exciting milestone, but sometimes things don’t go as planned. Sometimes a baby is delivered with a lack of oxygen or hypoxia.
This can have serious health effects if not caught and treated quickly. Let’s explore the health effects of hypoxia in newborns and how medical malpractice victims may be able to seek compensation for their injuries.
What Is Hypoxia?
Hypoxia (also referred to as birth asphyxia or hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy) refers to a lack of oxygen to a baby before, during, or after birth. This lack of oxygen supply to the body can affect organs and tissues, resulting in damage or death. In newborns, this can happen before, during, or after delivery due to various reasons, such as:
- umbilical cord issues,
- maternal infections,
- fetal distress,
- placental abruption, or
- trauma from a forceps delivery.
Short-Term Health Effects
The short-term health effects of oxygen deprivation vary based on the severity and duration of the lack of oxygen. If it is mild, your infant may need breathing support until they can breathe well on their own. In some cases, a baby may also need:
- Kidney support
- Medicine to treat seizures or control blood pressure
- Intravenous nutrition
- Body cooling treatment
- Breathing support from a machine, breathing tube, or heart pump
Long-Term Health Effects
If an infant survives childbirth but has suffered from hypoxia (lack of oxygen), they may experience long-term health effects that can range from mild to severe depending on how much oxygen was lost and for how long it lasted. In some cases, infants who have experienced hypoxia will require lifelong care with specialized equipment like wheelchairs, feeding tubes, and ventilators to assist with their daily needs.
Hypoxia can sometimes lead to long-term health concerns, including:
- Cerebral palsy
- Mental disabilities
- Autism spectrum disorder
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Hearing loss
- Vision loss
- Seizure disorders
- Respiratory issues such as chronic lung disease
Signs and Symptoms of Hypoxia at Birth
The signs and symptoms of hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) are not always immediately obvious but can include:
- seizures within the first day after delivery,
- diminished reflexes,
- increased muscle tone,
- respiratory distress,
- sleep apnea (loss of breathing while sleeping),
- poor feeding,
- lethargy or coma,
- hypotonia (low muscle tone),
- skin blanching,
- acidosis (acid buildup in the body),
- irregular heart rate or rhythm,
- low Apgar score (the test that doctors use to evaluate a baby’s physical condition right after birth),
- decreased body temperature,
- difficulty maintaining blood sugar levels, and
- problems with hearing or vision tests (including those done later on in life).
Compensation for Medical Malpractice Victims
If your baby suffered a hypoxic injury due to medical negligence, you may be entitled to compensation from the responsible parties. Common examples of mistakes that can lead to hypoxia made during labor involve failing to respond quickly enough to signs of fetal distress or not properly monitoring the umbilical cord during delivery.
Regardless of what caused the hypoxia, it is important that you contact an experienced attorney who specializes in medical malpractice cases so that they can help you understand your legal rights and options going forward. They can help you calculate your economic and non-economic damages.
Experienced & Reliable Legal Representation
No parent ever wants their baby to suffer an injury at birth due to medical negligence, but unfortunately, it does happen all too often. When it does occur it is important that parents understand their legal rights, so they can seek financial compensation for damages resulting from their child’s injury. With the right team on your side, you can ensure that your family has access to the support they need now and into the future following such an unfortunate event.
Zayas Law Firm is here and equipped to help clients pursue medical malpractice and birth injury suits. With nearly 45 years of collective experience, our attorneys are dedicated to helping victims of negligence fight to receive fair compensation. During the legal process, our team will not only work to establish liability and handle the case legalities but can also work with specialists for your injury's full severity to be accurately portrayed during legal proceedings.
Call (860) 278-0820 or reach out to us online to get started on your case today!