In the United States, between three and 20 full-term babies will sustain brain damage during birth. The potential causes of infant brain injury can range from maternal infection to placental abnormalities. One of the most prevalent causes of infant brain damage is known as birth asphyxia, which occurs when the baby experiences lack of oxygen during the labor and delivery process. Depending on the time that passes while the baby has insufficient oxygen, the child can experience mild to severe brain damage resulting in lifelong impairments or even death. When a doctor’s negligence contributes to an infant’s brain injury, parents and caregivers can obtain the compensation they need to provide the child with the best possible care for the rest of their life. Our experienced New Jersey Birth Injury Attorneys are currently advocating for one such infant, who suffered permanent consequences caused by asphyxiation during birth.
What is Birth Asphyxia?
Birth asphyxia is defined as lack of oxygen during or immediately after birth. Birth asphyxia occurs when an infant’s organs, most notably the brain, do not have sufficient oxygen and blood flow. The blood carries oxygen and nutrients to these vital organs, so even a short period of time without them can lead to cell death and permanent damage.
Birth asphyxia is responsible for approximately 50 percent of all cases involving infant brain damage. The extent of brain damage in a specific case is contingent upon several factors, including how long the infant is deprived of sufficient oxygen, the specific amount of oxygen or lack thereof, and the immediacy of medical intervention to correct the issue.
What are the Symptoms of Birth Asphyxia?
If a baby has suffered a brain injury, it may be hard to tell immediately or you may notice worrisome signs right away. In some cases, an infant who experienced birth asphyxia will be have skin that is pale or bluish in color, not be breathing or have abnormal respiration, have low heart rate or blood pressure, have poor circulation of the blood, show weak reflexes or poor muscle tone, have low energy or lethargy, and/or test positive for acidosis, which means a build up of acid in the blood.
After a child is delivered, they will be evaluated by medical professionals according to the Apgar Scoring Method. A child’s Apgar score is determined by the sum of their scores as it relates to several variables, which include skin coloration, heart rate, reflexes, muscle tone, and respiration. Apgar scores ranging from 0 to 3 may indicate birth asphyxia and the potential for a brain injury.
What Causes Asphyxiation during Birth?
There are many reasons why a child may be deprived of oxygen during the delivery process. Some of the potential causes of birth asphyxiation involve medical conditions in the mother, such as insufficient oxygen in the mother’s blood prior to or during childbirth, if the mother has an untreated infection, or if the mother has abnormally high or low blood pressure. Other conditions that may cause birth asphyxia include placental problems, such as the placenta separating prematurely from the womb, umblical cord issues, such as the umbilical cord wrapped around the baby’s neck, a blockage in the infant’s airway, or if the baby is anemic.
One of the leading causes of birth asphyxia is fetal distress during a long and difficult delivery. It is imperative for doctors to prevent prolonged, stressful labors because this significantly increases the potential for injuries in the baby and the mother.
A Case of Birth Asphyxia Resulting in Infant Brain Injury
In the case of our client, the mother sought treatment for premature contractions at New Jersey hospital. After evaluating her condition, the medical professionals responsible for her care and the care of her unborn child, ordered an emergency C-section delivery. Unfortunately, they failed to take timely action in delivering the child after making the initial uterine incision for the cesarean. In fact, they allowed 11 minutes to pass before the baby was actually delivered, during which time he suffered significant birth asphyxia.
The infant in this case was ultimately diagnosed with metabolic acidosis, birth depression, and acute respiratory failure. He will now be forced to cope with the long-term consequences of a severe brain injury. Babies who suffer from lack of oxygen during birth often have serious physical, cognitive, and behavioral conditions, including learning and processing disorders, speech and language deficits, autism, cerebral palsy, problems with mobility, and epilepsy.
Has Your Child Suffered a Brain Injury at Birth in NJ?
If your child has a brain injury and didn’t get enough oxygen during birth, you may be confused about how this happened and if your doctor could have done more to prevent it. There are countless cases of infant brain damage where medical mistakes were actually the cause. If you are wondering if your child’s brain damage could have been prevented or what your legal options may be to pursue compensation, it is highly advisable to seek knowledgeable legal counsel. To speak with a New Jersey birth injury attorney who has extensive experience with cases like these, call 866-708-8617 or fill out our online form to arrange a free case evaluation.