Birth Asphyxia and Oxygen Deprivation

Nationwide Cerebral Palsy Resource Network

Major pediatric textbooks indicate that there is a recognized association between asphyxia and Cerebral Palsy. These authoritative sources link oxygen deprivation to approximately 20-40% of all CP cases.

If you want to learn more about birth asphyxia and the consequences of oxygen deprivation, please contact Stern Law, PLLC by completing the form on this page or calling (800)462-5772 to speak with an experienced member of our legal team.

What Is Birth Asphyxia?

Birth asphyxia is a medical condition that occurs when a child’s brain has been deprived of oxygen.  Without adequate oxygenation, the baby’s brain can experience severe injury and possibly suffer long-lasting, life-altering consequences. Babies can display birth asphyxia symptoms differently. Prior to delivery, asphyxia may reveal itself through an abnormal heart rate or an increased acid level in the baby’s blood. At birth, asphyxia symptoms can include but are not limited to:

  • Low heart rate
  • Pale or blue skin color
  • Shallow breathing or gasping
  • Faint cry
  • Weak reflexes and muscle tone
  • Meconium aspiration

What Are The Complications Of Birth Asphyxia? from The CP Lawyer | Stern Law, PLLC on Vimeo.

Birth Asphyxia and Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy

Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE) refers to a brain injury that results from asphyxia. Babies who experience HIE can suffer from seizures, developmental delays, intellectual disabilities and Cerebral Palsy. Often, the severity of HIE’s impact isn’t fully known until a child reaches three to four years of age.

Can Birth Asphyxia And HIE Be Prevented By C-Section? from The CP Lawyer | Stern Law, PLLC on Vimeo.

Causes of Birth Asphyxia and Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy

Oxygen deprivation can occur at any time during pregnancy, labor or delivery. Some of the most common causes of birth asphyxia include:

  • Nuchal cord: A dangerous event that occurs when the umbilical cord wraps around a fetus’ neck.
     
  • Umbilical cord prolapse: This complication occurs when the umbilical cord precedes the baby in delivery.
     
  • Placental abruption: This refers to a situation in which the placenta prematurely separates from the uterine wall.
     
  • Placenta previa: This is when the cervix is partially or completely covered by the placenta.
     
  • Low amniotic fluid (oligohydramnios): Amniotic fluid assists in a fetus’ growth, temperature, nutrition intake and lung development. Low levels of this fluid can present a serious health risk. 
     
  • Shoulder dystocia: An obstetrical emergency in which one or both of the baby’s shoulders become stuck under the mother’s pubic bone.
     
  • Anesthesia errors: These mistakes can prevent a baby from receiving an adequate supply of oxygen-rich blood.  
     
  • Delayed C-section: When fetal distress is evident, emergency C-sections greatly reduce the risk of permanent damage.

Complications of Birth Asphyxia

In the absence of sufficient oxygenation, a child may experience complications including but not limited to:

  • Fetal Distress
  • Paralysis
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Seizures
  • Developmental delays
  • Intellectual disabilities

Unfortunately, some instances of asphyxia and HIE could have been prevented with appropriate fetal monitoring, attentive medical care and timely execution of intervention maneuvers. Despite the skill and training of medical professionals, mistakes still happen, causing innocent newborns to face a lifetime of physical and cognitive challenges. If your child suffered injuries from oxygen deprivation, it’s important to understand your rights. For more information about your legal options, contact Stern Law, PLLC online or at (800)462-5772.