Birth asphyxia is a life-threatening condition that occurs when a newborn does not get enough oxygen before, during, or after birth. Being told your baby has suffered a birth injury is devastating, especially when the injury was caused by medical malpractice. In these situations, it is crucial to have the support of a compassionate birth injury attorney.
At J&Y Law, we are highly experienced in handling birth injury lawsuits throughout California. Birth asphyxia can cause irreparable harm to your baby, turning what should be a joyful event into a tragedy. If your newborn has been injured due to asphyxia, contact our office today so we can help your family.
What Causes Birth Asphyxia?
Birth asphyxia – also referred to as perinatal asphyxia – occurs when an infant is harmed due to oxygen deprivation during labor, delivery, or shortly after birth. A lack of oxygen and blood flow during or after birth can lead to waste buildup in the baby’s body and damage the brain, heart, lungs, kidneys, and other internal organs. Asphyxia can be caused by:
- Lack of oxygen in the mother’s blood before or during birth
- The placenta separating from the uterus too quickly
- A long or difficult delivery
- An infection in the mother or baby
- A blocked or improperly developed airway in the baby
- Failure of the treating physician, nurse, or another medical professional
The extent of harm to a baby as a result of asphyxia depends on how long the child is deprived of oxygen, and how quickly treatment is provided. In the early stage of asphyxia – the first few minutes the baby is deprived of oxygen – the child can suffer from hypoxia (insufficient oxygen levels in the blood and tissue). This can cause acid buildup in the blood (acidosis) and lead to decreased blood flow to the brain or permanent brain damage. Prolonged oxygen deprivation can result in the infant’s death.
Birth Injuries Resulting from Perinatal Asphyxia
Without immediate medical attention, perinatal asphyxia can lead to a wide range of serious birth injuries, including:
- Cerebral palsy
- Developmental disabilities
- Motor disorders
- Feeding, hearing, or visual impairment
- Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE)
- Seizures/fetal stroke
The risk of permanent impairment increases dramatically when birth asphyxia is severe, prolonged, and/or improperly treated by medical professionals.
Detecting and Treating Birth Asphyxia
Often birth asphyxia is caused by a condition in the mother or the baby. Doctors and medical staff members must recognize and respond to signs and symptoms that a child may be suffering from asphyxia, such as:
- Abnormal heart rate
- Irregular or halted breathing
- Lack of movement
- Low blood pressure in the mother
- Umbilical cord problems
- Placenta problems
- Pale or bluish skin
Babies with mild asphyxia should be given breathing support until they can breathe on their own, however, severe asphyxia may require a ventilator, respiratory therapy and other medical treatment to prevent heart and lung damage, brain damage, and neonatal death.
When is it the result of medical malpractice?
Depending on the circumstances, an attending physician, nurse, or other medical professional who should have known about birth asphyxia and failed to prevent it can be held liable for medical malpractice. Various forms of negligence can lead to birth asphyxia, including:
- Failure to identify and address complications such as preeclampsia, shoulder dystocia, umbilical cord complication, or other known risk factors
- Failure to perform a C-section, or delaying a C-Section during a prolonged or difficult birth
- Failure to monitor the baby’s vitals during labor and delivery to identify signs of distress
- Failure to properly treat birth asphyxia and related injuries
- Improper use of labor-inducing drugs, forceps, and vacuum extractors, particularly in difficult or prolonged deliveries
Proving that birth asphyxia was preventable can be challenging, however, To have a valid claim, it is necessary to demonstrate that (1) the attending physician or another medical professional failed to provide the baby and/or the mother with the appropriate standard of care and (2) this failure caused the child’s birth injuries.
How J&Y Law Can Help
If you believe your baby has been seriously harmed due to preventable birth asphyxia, let our experienced birth injury attorneys guide you through this devastating experience. We will leverage our skills and resources to conduct a thorough investigation to understand the circumstances surrounding the birth and determine whether attending medical professionals failed to meet their duty of care.
Trust our legal team to help you obtain compensation that considers all of your child’s future medical and financial needs. Above all, we will provide you with compassionate representation when you need it most and stand by you at all times. Contact our office today to speak with an experienced birth asphyxia injury attorney.