Birth Asphyxia

Medical Malpractice Birth Asphyxia Lawyers

A new baby is often celebrated as a joyous occasion in which parents welcome their beautiful new bundle of joy to the world. The sad fact is that thousands of babies born annually in the United States suffer serious complications as a result of medical negligence. In some instances, babies suffer birth asphyxia, which can have a detrimental impact on their health and wellbeing. Although witnessing our children suffer is overwhelming in itself, learning that newborns are injured as a result of a medical professional’s negligence can make the situation even more unbearable.

When babies suffer birth asphyxia, providing care and support to them is imperative. The overwhelming situation is often difficult for families to endure. It is crucial that families are aware of legal options available to them so that they can seek justice for their children. Working with a knowledgeable, yet compassionate, legal team is crucial. Doing so enables families to protect their legal rights and best interests as they focus on moving forward from this tragic and unexpected incident.

The attorneys at The Malpractice Group have seen first-hand the sorrow, fear, and anxiety families endure after their children suffer birth injuries. This is just one of the reasons why we work so diligently to ensure parents and injured babies get the justice they deserve. Our medical malpractice attorneys understand the challenges families face after babies suffer from birth asphyxia and we firmly believe that birth injuries caused by negligence are completely unacceptable. We provide aggressive legal representation not only to protect families impacted by these acts of negligence but to ensure families in the future do not bear the same devastating consequences. Contact our The Malpractice Group right away to see how our team can help you.

What is Birth Asphyxia?

Birth asphyxia is a medical condition caused by the deprivation of oxygen. When asphyxia occurs, the deprivation of oxygen is so severe that it causes harm to the baby in the form of a brain injury. There are numerous events that can occur during or around the time of delivery that can result in oxygen deprivation to the baby. Fortunately, if the medical team appropriately monitors both the baby and mother during the labor and delivery process, and accurately interprets the heart tracings of the baby’s fetal monitor, the baby can be delivered quickly before the oxygen deprivation results in permanent injuries. 

In many cases, doctors will rush mothers to perform emergency C-sections when babies show signs of distress. Fetal distress caused by oxygen deprivation can manifest itself on the fetal heart monitor as a non-reassuring tracing, which indicates the baby should be delivered as soon as possible. If medical professionals do not act quickly to deliver the baby, it can cause irreversible injuries and damages to the unborn child.

How is Asphyxia Diagnosed?

After noticing signs of oxygen deprivation, it is imperative that doctors act quickly to diagnose the condition. A timely and accurate diagnosis is a critical step toward beginning treatment. Some of the ways birth asphyxia is confirmed include:

  • CT Scans
  • EEGs
  • MRIs
  • PET Scans
  • Blood Glucose Testing
  • Arterial Blood Gas Tests
  • Ultrasounds

When doctors suspect birth asphyxia or hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, it is crucial that they begin testing and neuroimaging studies to confirm the condition. This will enable medical professionals to begin timely treatment, which could ultimately help the prognosis.

Causes of Asphyxia

There are several events that can cause birth asphyxia.  Some of the leading causes of this condition include:

  • Placental Abruption: When the sac that holds the baby detaches from the wall of the uterus, it can cause oxygen deprivation to the baby. In some instances, placental abruption causes severe bleeding, which can be life-threatening to both the mother and the child.
  • Umbilical Cord Problems: There are numerous ways umbilical cord problems can cause birth asphyxia. When the cord gets wrapped around the baby’s neck, when the umbilical cord is too short, or prolapses, or becomes knotted, it can cause partial or complete deprivation of oxygen to the baby.
  • Delayed Emergency C-section: There are often complications that result in the urgent need for a C-section. When the delivery process is delayed, it can cause a major deprivation of oxygen to the baby. This can result in irreversible damages to the unborn child.
  • Improper Fetal Heart Monitoring: During the labor and delivery process, it is crucial for doctors and medical professionals to monitor the baby. This includes monitoring the heartbeat for any signs of distress. When medical professionals fail to recognize and respond to signs of fetal stress, it can result in oxygen deprivation.
  • Placenta Previa: When the placenta grows too close to the opening of the uterus, it can cause a partial or complete blockage of the mother’s cervix and prevents the baby from exiting the womb. When babies grow under these circumstances, they can experience perinatal asphyxia. 
  • Ruptured Uterus: When there is a tear through all of the layers of the womb, it can result in severe hemorrhaging to the mother and can cause the baby to fall out into the mother’s abdomen. The loss of blood can cause a dramatic decrease in the flow of blood and oxygen to the baby.
  • Preeclampsia/Eclampsia: When the mother experiences high blood pressure at any time during pregnancy, it can decrease the flow of blood and oxygen to the baby. If not properly controlled, this condition can be fatal to an unborn child.
  • The Premature Rupture of the Membranes/Premature Birth: This condition occurs when the mother’s water breaks before she goes into active labor. This condition can cause the umbilical cord to compress and cut off oxygen to the baby. Furthermore, babies who are delivered prematurely do not have fully developed lungs, which can result in a shortage of oxygen to the brain.
  • Oligohydramnios: When the mother has low amniotic fluids, it puts the baby at significant risk of having a compressed or prolapsed umbilical cord. This condition can also lead to meconium aspiration, which can increase the chances of respiratory distress and problems getting adequate oxygen.
  • Anesthesia Mistakes: When mothers are administered too much anesthesia, it can lead to blood pressure problems. A hypotensive crisis can cause a drastic decrease in the blood and oxygen flow to the baby.
  • Prolonged/Arrested Labor: Contractions put immense stress on developing fetuses. When labor is prolonged, it can cause a decrease in the amount of oxygen the baby’s brain receives. This condition can be worsened in cases where Cytotec or Pitocin are used.
  • Fetal Strokes: When there is a blockage or restrictions in a baby’s brain, it can result in oxygen deprivation. In some cases, babies suffer fetal strokes as a result of forceps or vacuum extractors. 
  • Brain Bleeds: Intracranial hemorrhages can be caused by a traumatic delivery. The use of vacuum extractors and forceps can drastically increase the likelihood of a brain bleed, which can result in oxygen deprivation. 
  • Improper Management of Baby’s Respiratory Status: When doctors fail to adequately monitor apnea or manage babies on breathing machines or fail to give the proper amounts of surfactant, it can result in difficulties obtaining oxygen.

When medical professionals fail to recognize and address these conditions in a timely and effective manner, it can lead to birth asphyxia. If your baby has suffered injuries due to oxygen deprivation, contact our medical malpractice attorneys as soon as possible to protect your legal rights.

Signs and Symptoms of Birth Asphyxia

The birthing process is one of the most anticipated experiences for new parents. Unfortunately, there are certain events that can occur and make this a traumatic and challenging time. In some cases, babies may suffer from oxygen deprivation. It is crucial that medical professionals recognize the signs and symptoms of these conditions so they can immediately begin to render aid and mitigate the chances of long-term complications. Recognizing the signs is key in ensuring the most desirable outcome for these injuries. Babies who suffer from birth asphyxia often exert an array of signs and symptoms. Some of the most common symptoms of these conditions include:

  • Coma
  • Problems feeding
  • Low muscle tone (hypotonia)
  • Abnormal limpness 
  • Having a low APGAR score that lasts over five minutes
  • No brain stem reflexes
  • Multiple organ problems
  • Having to be resuscitated at birth
  • Experiencing seizures within the first 24 to 48 hours after delivery

A failure to recognize these symptoms can have life-threatening consequences for babies. The severity of consequences depends on several factors surrounding the incident of birth asphyxia. The extent of harm suffered by babies depends on:

  • How long the asphyxia and deprivation of oxygen lasted
  • The severity of the oxygen deprivation the child sustained
  • How quickly the baby was provided adequate medical treatment for their condition

During the early stages of birth asphyxia, babies are at risk of suffering from hypoxia. This condition is characterized by having an insufficient oxygen level in the blood and tissues surrounding the brain. If this state lasts for any significant period, it can result in acidosis. Having acid in the blood can result in the decreased function of the heart, as well as blood pressure problems, and a decrease in the flow of blood to the brain. In severe cases, babies can suffer irreversible brain damages.

Babies who are not treated for birth asphyxia in a timely and accurate manner can sustain permanent brain injuries. Some of the consequences of perinatal asphyxia include:

  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy
  • Seizures/Fetal Strokes
  • Motor Skill Disorders
  • Feeding Problems
  • Vision Problems
  • Hearing Impairments
  • Developmental/Learning Disabilities

If your newborn suffered birth asphyxia and negative consequences caused by the negligence of medical professionals, contact our law firm to get the justice you deserve.

How is Birth Asphyxia Treated?

Babies diagnosed with birth asphyxia require various forms of supportive care. These treatments are performed to limit the extent of brain damages and to prevent further injuries from developing. In general, babies will receive treatment aimed to control and prevent seizures from occurring. Newborns will be admitted into NICU care and put onto a ventilation device. Strives will be taken to minimize the amount of swelling in the brain and to monitor the blood glucose and blood pressure of the baby.

Babies who meet specific criteria may be able to undergo hypothermia treatment for oxygen deprivation to the brain. This route of therapy has promising results when it comes to improving the prognosis of babies with birth asphyxia and hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy. Brain cooling works by decreasing the severity of neurological injuries by lowering the baby’s body temperature to around 91-degrees Fahrenheit for a period of 72-hours. This slows the metabolic rate, allowing for cell recovery over an extended period.

The Malpractice Group Can Help You

Every day, families across the United States are forced to endure the overwhelming consequences of birth injuries caused by the negligent and reckless actions of medical professionals. Birth asphyxia complications are particularly serious because of the long-term impacts that these injuries can have. Babies who suffer from birth asphyxia require immediate medical attention to decrease the severity of potential consequences. Identifying and starting treatment as soon as possible is an important part of minimizing the consequences of these injuries. If your baby suffered a birth injury and you believe it was caused by a negligent medical professional, it is essential that you contact a knowledgeable and experienced medical negligence lawyer as soon as possible.

Our medical malpractice team at The Malpractice Group of Wais Vogelstein Forman & Offutt has decades of experience assisting families with getting the justice they deserve. When babies suffer from birth asphyxia that results in permanent damages and disabilities, our attorneys help those impacted recover full and fair compensation to alleviate the long-term costs of medical treatment and various other damages they face. Contact our law firm today at (312) 561-4324. Schedule a free case evaluation at your earliest convenience to discuss legal options available for you.