While a baby is still in the womb, oxygen is delivered to the infant via the placenta and umbilical cord. One of the most critical times during the birth process is the baby’s transition to breathing on his or her own. When problems occur during this transition, the baby may receive too little oxygen. Hypoxia, or inadequate oxygen, can lead to a number of devastating birth injuries as well as death.
What Complications Can Lead to Hypoxia?
Hypoxia is often caused when a problem with the baby’s umbilical cord reduces the oxygen available to him or her. Nuchal umbilical cord occurs when the umbilical cord wraps around the baby’s neck. A short umbilical cord or knotted umbilical cord can also cause hypoxia. Umbilical cord prolapse occurs when the cord drops through the mother’s cervix and reduces blood flow to the baby. Placental abruption occurs when the placenta separates from the uterus. This can not only deprive the baby of oxygen but may also cause dangerously heavy bleeding in the mother. The use of forceps has also been shown to sometimes cause hypoxia.
Hypoxia Can Cause Life-Altering Injuries
Doctors should be aware of the risk factors associated with hypoxia as well as the warning signs that a baby is not receiving enough oxygen. If swift action to correct low oxygen is not taken, the baby may develop:...