A baby’s brain needs a constant supply of oxygen and blood. Know the signs of interrupted blood supply and how a doctor should respond.
Asphyxia is a medical term that means the brain isn’t getting enough of the oxygen-rich blood it needs. When asphyxia happens to a baby during pregnancy, labor, delivery, or soon after birth, it is referred to as birth asphyxia.
Birth asphyxia is dangerous. Depending on the extent of the oxygen deprivation and how long it lasts, birth asphyxia can cause severe organ damage, brain damage, permanent disability, or even death.
If you are a pregnant mother, it is important that your health care team fully understands birth asphyxia: the symptoms, treatments, complications, and best practices for prevention.
Sadly, many cases of birth asphyxia are caused by medical negligence, either because a doctor or nurse makes a critical error during pregnancy or labor, or because of a lack of proper monitoring or a lack of familiarity with the symptoms and treatments.
Birth Asphyxia Symptoms
Doctors should continually monitor your baby’s vital signs — even after delivery — to watch for signs of asphyxia. Any indication that your baby’s brain may not be getting an adequate blood supply should be considered a medical emergency, and doctors should respond accordingly.
Birth asphyxia symptoms include:
- Skin color that is bluish, gray, or pale
- Weak breathing / respiratory distress (or failure to breathe)
- A slow heart rate or weak pulse
- Weak reflexes
- Poor muscle tone
- Acidosis (a dangerously high level of acid in the blood)
- Meconium (i.e. fecal matter, or a “stool stain”) in the amniotic fluid
Treatments for Birth Asphyxia
Appropriate treatment depends on the severity of asphyxia and the baby’s vital signs.
First and foremost, health care providers should take immediate steps to address the cause of the asphyxia and to restore normal blood supply.
In cases of mild asphyxia, the most common treatment is breathing support, which should be maintained until the baby can once again breathe on their own. Most infants will fully recover from mild asphyxia over time, though doctors should continue to monitor closely for complications (see below).
In cases of more extensive asphyxia, appropriate treatment might include:
- Body cooling
- Life support: heart pump or heart-lung pump
- Medications (such as blood pressure medicine or anti-seizure drugs)
- Intravenous fluids & nutrition supply (IV)
- Breathing support, which may include the use of nitric oxide and/or specially designed breathing apparatus or machinery
Birth Asphyxia Complications
Complications of birth asphyxia can include:
- Cerebral palsy
- Loss of vision or hearing (or other vision / hearing problems)
- Fetal distress
- Developmental delays
- Seizure disorders
- Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE)
- Periventricular leukomalacia
- Physical disability, which may be permanent
Talk to an Indianapolis Birth Asphyxia Lawyer at Doehrman Buba Ring
If your newborn has suffered an injury because of birth asphyxia, it is important that you understand the potential complications for your child, as well as the complex legal process that may follow. You and your family may be entitled to financial compensation for your baby’s injuries and your financial losses, as well as the future cost of care. We encourage you to contact our office and talk to an experienced Indianapolis birth injury lawyer about your options.
We will not charge you a fee unless we are successful in recovering compensation for your claim. To learn more, please contact Doehrman Buba Ring and schedule a free, no-obligation consultation today.