Hypoxia, or lack of oxygen, may occur before, during, or after birth. The lack of oxygen can have profound effects on the child, including brain damage and developmental disabilities. A number of things might cause it, and doctors should respond appropriately to minimize the effects.
A doctor’s failure to follow a standard of care might prolong the hypoxic state and could contribute to the child’s injuries. Talk to a New York attorney for birth hypoxia at Buttafuoco & Associates to discuss your case and whether a doctor may be liable. Call us at 1-800-NOW-HURT.
How Birth Hypoxia Occurs
Birth hypoxia occurs when the child does not receive adequate oxygen to its brain. Many factors can cause this condition, including:
- Placental insufficiency or abruption
- Prolapsed umbilical cord or other injuries
- Difficult delivery and shoulder dystocia
- Abnormal maternal blood pressure
- Obstruction of baby’s airway
The presence of these incidents in itself does not indicate malpractice, however. But when a medical provider fails to follow the standard of care in addressing hypoxia in a child, the doctor may be liable.
Identifying Negligence in Birth Hypoxia Cases
Some causes of hypoxia are identifiable before birth, such as abnormalities in the placenta or umbilical cord. Early detection of these problems is essential for timely correction and avoidance of hypoxia. Failure to identify and manage the risk of hypoxia during pregnancy is a common type of negligence in hypoxia cases.
A doctor may also be negligent in failing to provide proper support during birth. A fetus can suffer from asphyxia if it becomes stuck in the birth canal due to a breech birth or shoulder dystocia. If the doctor failed to manage these conditions, either by performing a c-section or using assisted delivery methods, it could contribute to the extent of the child’s hypoxia.
Even if an infant is hypoxic at delivery, quick diagnosis of the problem and application of breathing and circulatory assistance may prevent long-term damage. If the doctor failed to assess your infant’s distress and did not administer quick assistance, the doctor may be liable for the child’s injuries.
Long-term Consequences of Birth Hypoxia
The lack of oxygen to a child’s brain can cause hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). Hypoxia means lack of oxygen. Ischemic means lack of blood supply to an organ. Encephalopathy means damage or disease affecting the brain.
Moderate HIE can cause sluggish movement and reaction. Some children suffer seizures during their first day of life. The child may recover within a couple weeks.
Severe HIE may cause:
- Severe seizures for the first couple days
- Lack of response to stimuli
- Lack of common reflexes like sucking or grasping
- Abnormal breathing that requires a ventilator
- Abnormal blood pressure
- Abnormal heart rate
- Dilated pupils
- Risk of death from cardiorespiratory failure
HIE may cause long-term complications like epilepsy, blindness, developmental delays or disabilities, and cerebral palsy.
Hypoxia and Cerebral Palsy
Birth hypoxia is a known cause of cerebral palsy (CP). Over a child’s lifetime, CP can cause:
- Loss of muscle tone
- Lack of coordination
- Stiff or spastic muscles
- Unusual walking characteristics
- Hearing loss
- Vision impairment
- Difficulty controlling bladder and bowel
An infant who suffers hypoxia leading to severe CP may require life-long care. Although CP is an incurable condition, timely intervention and ongoing treatment can improve a child’s prognosis.
Recovering Damages for a Hypoxia Birth Injury
If your child suffered complications because of hypoxia at birth, talk to a lawyer at Buttafuoco & Associates. We will investigate to help determine if a doctor acted negligently, contributing to your child’s injuries. We will also work with you to identify all of your child’s damages to pursue a full and fair recovery.
The attorneys at Buttafuoco & Associates know the right questions to ask and the proper medical tests to prove liability. Call 1-800-NOW-HURT for a free case review.