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Birth Asphyxia

Help With Birth Injuries Caused By Oxygen Deprivation - Chicago Medical Negligence Lawyer

During the process of labor and delivery, a child may be placed at risk in a variety of ways. One of the most dangerous issues that can occur is asphyxia, in which an infant does not receive enough oxygen. This can happen for a variety of reasons, and medical staff should closely monitor a child throughout the delivery and take immediate steps to address any signs of oxygen deprivation. Failure to do so can result in severe injuries or death.

Causes of Infant Asphyxia

During pregnancy, oxygen is delivered to the infant through the placenta and umbilical cord after passing through the mother's system. Asphyxia can occur if there are any interruptions in the path of oxygen to the child. Some reasons for oxygen problems include:

  • Placenta issues - In cases involving placental abruption, in which the placenta fully or partially detaches from the uterus, the child may not be able to receive enough oxygen. Issues such as placental insufficiency or placenta previa may also restrict the flow of oxygen and endanger the child.
  • Umbilical cord issues - If umbilical cord prolapse occurs during birth, the child's oxygen supply may be cut off, and a Cesarean delivery may be necessary. Issues such as a knot in the umbilical cord or the cord being wrapped around the child's neck (nuchal cord) may also result in oxygen deprivation. The risk of umbilical cord issues increases if the mother experiences a condition known as oligohydramnios, in which there are low levels of amniotic fluid in the uterus.
  • Infections - If a child contracts an infectious disease or experiences sepsis, this may affect their ability to breathe, or it may cause swelling of blood vessels that restricts the flow of oxygen throughout the body.
  • Prolonged labor - The continued contractions that occur during labor can cause fetal distress, affecting the child's heart rate and ability to deliver oxygen to the brain. This is especially true when labor is induced using drugs such as Pitocin, which can cause strong contractions that inhibit blood flow to the child.
  • Preeclampsia - If the mother experiences high blood pressure during pregnancy, blood flow to the placenta may be restricted, resulting in asphyxia.
  • Uterine rupture - If the uterus tears during delivery, this can result in severe hemorrhaging of blood, which may result in reduced flow of oxygen to the child.
  • Hypotension - A child may experience low blood pressure during or after birth, and this can affect their ability to deliver oxygen throughout the body and brain.
  • Anemia - If the mother or the child experiences an iron deficiency, this may affect the ability of their red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body.

Injuries Resulting From Oxygen Deprivation

During pregnancy, labor, and delivery, the proper flow of oxygen to a child's body and brain is crucial. Interruptions in oxygen flow can result in serious brain injuries, including: 

  • Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) - This condition occurs when brain cells are damaged due to lack of oxygen, and the toxins released by these cells cause additional damage, resulting in a chain reaction that spreads throughout the brain.
  • Cystic encephalomalacia - Asphyxia may result in the development of cysts in the white matter of the brain.
  • Periventricular leukomalacia (PVL) - Oxygen deprivation may cause injury to the white matter surrounding the ventricles in the brain.

Brain damage is often irreversible, and it can result in cognitive impairment, intellectual disabilities, or developmental disorders such as cerebral palsy. A child may also experience seizures, microcephaly, or behavioral disorders.

Assistance With Asphyxia-Related Birth Injuries

When a child experiences asphyxia during birth, this can result in serious injuries and permanent disabilities. The costs of caring for a child with a developmental disorder can be very high, and parents will want to understand their options for receiving assistance. At the Birth Injury Law Alliance, we can help you understand what forms of financial help are available, including determining whether medical negligence was a factor in your child's injury. To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation, contact us today at 312-945-1300.

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