What Types of Birth Injuries Can Be Caused by Hypoxia?
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:
- Cerebral Palsy: Cerebral palsy is a movement disorder that can cause involuntary movements, floppiness or rigidity of the arms and legs, abnormal reflexes, problems with walking and eating, and intellectual disabilities.
- Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE): When the brain is injured due to inadequate oxygen, brain cells may release toxins that further damage brain tissue. HIE can vary significantly in severity. Infants who suffer from HIE may develop epilepsy, suffer from severe cognitive impairment and developmental delays, and struggle with motor skills as they get older.
- Periventricular Leukomalacia (PVL): Hypoxia can cause a softening of the white matter surrounding the ventricles in the brain. This may lead to delayed motor development, vision problems, and seizures.
- Cystic Encephalomalacia: Reduced oxygen can cause cysts to develop in the white matter of the brain. This may lead to an enlarged or abnormally-shaped head, seizures, excessive crying, and problems with feeding.
- Cognitive and Developmental Delays: Inadequate oxygen during birth can lead to brain damage. This may result in the child suffering from delayed language development, problems with fine motor skills, learning difficulties, attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficit hyper disorder (ADHD), and autism.
Contact a Cook County Birth Injury Lawyer
Hypoxia can lead to severe brain damage. An infant who does not receive enough oxygen during birth may experience difficulties for the rest of his or her life. To learn about recovering compensation for a birth injury caused by hypoxia, contact Schwartz Injury Law. Schedule a free consultation with an experienced Joliet medical malpractice attorney by calling 815-723-7300 today.