Lack of Oxygen in Newborns During Birth

Two simple words, oxygen deprivation can and should strike fear into new parents. Oxygen deprivation during childbirth is can be caused by a number of factors and if not identified quickly, can lead to a whole host of problems including mobility issues, autism and cerebral palsy among other problems. What many parents wonder is what causes oxygen deprivation during birth. The answers are complicated and frightening and unfortunately in some cases, can occur without anyone realizing there is a problem. If you encounter any issues during the birth of your child, contact our Louisville birth injury attorneys immediately.

Asphyxia (or lack of oxygen) causes a whole host of issues and can be caused by numerous factors including:

  • Insufficient maternal oxygen – when you do not have sufficient levels of oxygen in your blood you cannot pass sufficient oxygen onto the baby. Mother’s oxygen levels should be monitored carefully to ensure this does not occur
  • Twisted cord – since oxygen (and nutrients) pass from mother to baby via the umbilical cord, if the cord becomes twisted or compressed, the infant may suffer lower than expected oxygen which can cause problems
  • Blocked airway – in some cases, the baby’s airway may be blocked with mucus causing a lack of oxygen
  • Delivery problems – a very long delivery or difficult delivery can put a strain on the baby and can cause the baby to not get enough oxygen
  • Placenta problems – if for some reason the placenta and uterus separate too quickly, the baby may not be getting the proper amount of oxygen

In most cases, if the medical personnel taking care of you are diligent about monitoring the baby for distress, the side effects of insufficient oxygen can be prevented. In extreme cases, a physician may order a cesarean section to enable the baby to get proper care immediately after delivery to mitigate problems.

Identifying low oxygen problems

In extreme cases, oxygen deprivation problems can cause a still birth. However, not all cases are this extreme. Immediately after birth, your baby should be getting immediate attention to ensure they are breathing properly and of course, they are crying. There are some other steps that the doctor or nurse may take to make sure your baby has not suffered oxygen deprivation including:

  • Apgar test – this test is specifically used to detect responses in your baby. Babies who score low on this test may have oxygen deprivation
  • Seizures – when your baby suffers any type of a seizure prior to the second day after birth, it may be an indication of reduced oxygen levels
  • Problems feeding – when an infant appears unable to swallow milk, or has problems sucking they may have low oxygen levels
  • Cord PH – oftentimes if the PH balance in your baby’s umbilical cord is very low, this may be an indication of oxygen deprivation

Medical personnel should be able to detect these problems and take the appropriate steps. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. When your infant suffers oxygen deprivation at birth, the long-term consequences can be devastating including mobility issues, cerebral palsy and even seizures. If you believe your infant may be suffering the after-effects of oxygen deprivation at birth, you should contact the law offices of Meinhart Smith & Manning PLLC. Your baby may suffer life-long repercussions which may require specialized care which can be very expensive. Call our Louisville medical malpractice attorneys and let us evaluate your case.