What is Hypoxia in Newborns?

Posted By Kinnard, Clayton & Beveridge || Apr 15, 2016

Hypoxia occurs when a newborn does not receive sufficient oxygen levels to the brain. The oxygen helps the brain send neurotransmitters and electrochemical impulses throughout the body. If the brain does not receive enough oxygen, it can cause permanent damage, particularly in newborns, who are still developing their neurological capacities. Hypoxia, if left untreated, can cause serious injury or even death.

The major cause of hypoxia in a newborn occurs because of respiratory issues. An obstruction in airways prevents oxygen from reaching the brain. Other common causes of newborn hypoxia include:

  • Placental abruption
  • Umbilical prolapse
  • Problematic delivery
  • Strangulation by umbilical cord
  • Birth asphyxia

It is imperative that doctors closely examine newborns, especially those who display signs of fetal distress. In general practice, obstetricians use the Apgar score to determine the health of the baby. Given directly after birth, this test determines the need for immediate medical attention in the new babies. Doctors look at the newborn’s appearance, pulse, reflexes, muscle tone, and respiration to regulate how well the child faired the birth. If a doctor fails to diagnose respiratory failure or breathing problems, the baby can suffer hypoxia.

A newborn’s brain function is still being formed after birth. If the child suffers hypoxia, the longer it goes untreated, the greater the risk to the baby. Within the first few minutes of oxygen deprivation, the newborn will experience brain cell damage. If doctors wait longer, it can lead to permanent injuries.

Hypoxia can lead to:

  • Cerebral palsy
  • Cognitive disabilities
  • Seizures
  • Mental retardation
  • Behavioral disorder
  • Death

Doctors and obstetricians have a responsibility to uphold the accepted standard of care. If they breach these regulations, they put the baby at risk. If your child suffered hypoxic injuries because of medical error or negligence, you may be eligible for compensation. Call our Nashville birth injury attorney today to learn your legal rights. We fight on behalf of newborns and families. We will review your case and help you find legal recourse.

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