Newborn brain anoxia is a birth injury that occurs when a baby’s brain does not receive enough oxygen. Lack of oxygen to the brain is a life-threatening medical condition that often leads to long-term impairment.
Unavoidable medical complications during an infant’s birth may cause anoxia, or it may be the result of negligent medical care.
Brain Anoxia Occurs When a Baby’s Brain Receives Insufficient Oxygen
Like other organs, the brain requires oxygen to function properly. Oxygen deprivation in the brain can lead to brain damage in a matter of minutes. The term “hypoxia” is used to describe reduced oxygen flow to a baby’s brain, while a total absence of oxygen is called anoxia.
Reasons an Infant May Receive Too Little Oxygen During Birth
When a baby is still in the womb, the umbilical cord delivers the baby oxygen from the placenta. The baby’s transition from in utero oxygen to breathing on their own is a crucial stage in the birth process. When there are problems during this transition, the baby’s brain can be deprived of oxygen.
Brain anoxia during birth may be caused by:
- Prolonged labor
- Delayed C-section
- The baby being in breech presentation
- The baby’s head being too big to fit through the mother’s pelvis
- The use of forceps or vacuum extraction
- Problems with the umbilical cord, including umbilical cord prolapse, nuchal cord, knotted umbilical cord, or umbilical cord stricture
- Problems with the placenta, including placental abruption
- Uterine rupture
- Delayed intubation or mistakes during resuscitation
- Gestational diabetes
- Shoulder dystocia
- Preeclampsia and other blood pressure problems
- Misuse of labor-inducing medications
Consequences of Infant Brain Anoxia During Birth
Newborn brain anoxia can lead to severe consequences that dramatically impact the child’s life. Sometimes, the effects of reduced oxygen are immediately apparent. Other times, parents of a newborn do not know that their baby suffered from lack of oxygen during birth until weeks, months, or even years later.
Missed Developmental Milestones and Developmental Disabilities
Parents may realize that something is wrong when their baby starts missing important developmental milestones. The parents may notice that their babies have not learned to grasp objects, smile, crawl, or walk when babies their same age do.
Missed developmental milestones may not become apparent until the child is a bit older. Parents may notice that their school-aged child struggles with reading, writing, math, or following directions. Sometimes, a child can overcome developmental delays. Other times, they are left with physical or intellectual impairments for the rest of their life.
An infant who suffers brain anoxia may suffer from temporary or permanent hearing loss or vision loss. Some babies even suffer deafness or blindness. Lack of oxygen during birth can also lead to problems with speaking.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 85 to 90% of cerebral palsy cases are congenital, which means that they are caused by brain damage before or during birth. Medical complications during labor and delivery that result in reduced oxygen to the baby’s brain can cause cerebral palsy.
Treatment for Newborns With Brain Anoxia
In many cases, the harm caused by anoxia may be mitigated by swift medical intervention. Imaging tests, including CT scans, Electroencephalograms (EEG), and MRIs, are often used to detect brain damage caused by insufficient oxygen.
Cooling Therapy May Reduce Brain Damage
The most common treatment for newborn brain anoxia is cooling therapy or “therapeutic neonatal hypothermia.” The baby’s body temperature is reduced, which reduces the amount of oxygen that the brain needs. This can mitigate the brain damage caused by anoxia.
Long-term Treatment Options
A baby who suffers from reduced oxygen may require treatment for years after birth. Physical therapy, speech therapy, medication, and special education programs can help a child who suffers from brain damage due to lack of oxygen.
Contact the Attorneys at the Fitch Law Firm LLC for a Free Consultation
If your baby suffered from newborn brain anoxia, it is possible that medical negligence is to blame. A medical malpractice case may allow you to receive compensation for your baby’s medical needs and other damages.
The Fitch Law Firm LLC can investigate the cause of your baby’s birth injury and help you explore your legal options. We take cases on a contingency fee basis, so there is no cost to you unless we recover compensation through a settlement or award. Call the Fitch Law Firm LLC at (614) 545-3930 for a free consultation.