Birth Injuries Related to Oxygen Deprivation
It only takes a few minutes of oxygen deprivation to cause permanent birth injuries.
Deprivation of oxygen, also known as neonatal asphyxia, refers to lack of oxygen during labor and delivery. Although it may occur at any point during the pregnancy, labor is the period when the chances of oxygen deprivation are high due to unforeseen complications during labor and delivery. Only a few minutes of oxygen deprivation can cause permanent birth injuries, so it is important for the obstetrician to identify the risks during the mother’s prenatal visits. If the doctor foresees significant risks such as placenta previa or breech position, the doctor may plan a caesarean section.
Oxygen Deprivation During Pregnancy
Fetal asphyxia can occur at any time during pregnancy if the mother develops low blood pressure because of an infection, traumatic injury, or dehydration. Fetal asphyxia happens because the fetus gets oxygen from the mother’s blood through the placenta and umbilical cord, and if the mother’s blood pressure drops, the fetus will not get adequate oxygen supply. By monitoring blood pressure and treating any deviations in a timely manner, the doctor can prevent fetal asphyxia.
Oxygen Deprivation During Labor and Delivery
During labor and delivery, oxygen deprivation can occur because of a variety of reasons. Uterine contractions can cause normal interruptions in the blood supply to the placenta, but the fetus has adaptive mechanisms to cope with this. However, if the oxygen supply is restricted for a prolonged period because of a blockage or occlusion of the placenta, it may cause a drop in fetal oxygen content and a possible increase in carbonic acid or carbon dioxide content. This can lead to serious birth injuries and even death.
Some complications that the obstetrician must handle to prevent oxygen deprivation include fetal distress during long and ineffective labor or because of premature rupture of amniotic membrane. Fetal monitoring plays a crucial role in this as it helps identify fetal distress in time and enables the doctor to plan and perform an emergency C-section.
Other Complications Causing Oxygen Deprivation
Another potential cause of oxygen deprivation during childbirth is umbilical cord prolapse, which can cause compression. For example, nuchal cord, when the umbilical cord is wrapped around the fetus’ neck, is another complication that can lead to hypnoxia. Shoulder dystocia is a condition wherein the fetus’ shoulder becomes stuck in the mother’s pelvis and may cause compression or occlusion of the umbilical cord. The obstetrician should react to the situation and use assistive techniques appropriately to dislodge the shoulder. Placental abruption may also cause oxygen deprivation and subsequent birth injuries. Premature separation of the placenta from the uterine wall can cause a life-threatening hemorrhage and loss of adequate oxygen supply to the fetus.
The Devastating Consequences
Oxygen deprivation can have devastating consequences. It can lead to permanent injuries including developmental abnormalities and cerebral palsy. Obstetricians must identify and manage all risks in a timely manner to prevent oxygen deprivation. If you think your doctor acted negligently and failed to manage these risks appropriately, discuss your case with an experienced St. Louis birth injury attorney.
Contact the Missouri and Illinois birth injury lawyers at Zevan and Davidson today to schedule a free consultation by calling(314) 588-7200.
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If you have suffered as a result of medical malpractice, contact our legal team right away. Waiting to seek legal representation can prevent you from filing a claim and receiving the compensation you deserve.
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