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Hypoxia and Asphyxia Errors

Hypoxia | Asphyxiation | Deprivation of Oxygen | Brain Injury

Hypoxia and asphyxia both describe a lack of oxygen to the body. Certain conditions during childbirth can cause a baby to experience hypoxia or asphyxia before, during or after childbirth. When errors, improper medical care or a failure to provide proper medical care has resulted in the condition, you may have grounds to pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit.

What Is the Difference Between Hypoxia and Asphyxia?

Asphyxia results from injury or obstruction of airway passages. Hypoxia occurs when the body’s tissues have inadequate oxygen delivery or uptake or cannot utilize the oxygen in the blood.

What Can Cause Asphyxia and Hypoxia?

When a baby is born prematurely, often the lungs have not developed sufficiently for the baby to breathe outside of the mother’s uterus. This causes asphyxia, which then results in hypoxia. Another source of oxygen deprivation can occur during childbirth. A prolapsed umbilical cord (a cord that is pushed through the birth canal ahead of the baby), a compressed umbilical cord or a cord wrapped around the baby’s neck can cut off oxygen to the baby.

Other causes may include problems with the placenta. Placental insufficiency occurs when not enough nutrients and oxygen flow from the mother to the baby. Diabetes may cause this condition along with medications and lifestyle habits. If the placenta separates from the placental wall too early, before birth, this can also deprive a baby of oxygen. Ways of preventing complications with the placenta include controlling high blood pressure and also avoiding certain medicines.

If the mother’s oxygen levels are too low or her blood pressure is too high or low, this can also cause oxygen deprivation for the baby.

How Does Asphyxia or Hypoxia Harm Babies?

Asphyxia is the most common cause of brain damage in infants.

About 20 to 50 percent of babies die when they experience asphyxia and hypoxia during the neonatal period (the period between 22 weeks of gestation up to seven days after birth). About 25 percent of the babies that survive have neurological disabilities. Examples of such disabilities include cerebral palsy, cognitive disorders, learning disorders and neuropsychiatric problems.

When Are Problems with Asphyxia or Hypoxia Considered Medical Malpractice?

When standard medical practice could have or should have prevented asphyxia or hypoxia, you may have a cause of action to bring a malpractice lawsuit.

Monitoring acid levels and the fetal heart rate can alert staff that the baby is in danger. When the heart beat drops and cannot be brought back into normal range, the staff must act quickly to take emergency measures. Performing a C-section can often prevent oxygen deprivation.

Failing to monitor, failing to recognize the signs of fetal distress or delaying action to handle the complication can lead to severe brain damage, the development of cerebral palsy or death of an infant.

Consult with Experienced Medical Malpractice Lawyers

We encourage you to contact us if you believe that medical malpractice led to birth injuries caused by hypoxia or asphyxia. Our experienced and compassionate attorneys at Sackstein Sackstein & Lee, LLP can discuss your issues in a free consultation. You owe no fees unless we recover compensation on your behalf. We have extensive skills, experience and resources to help you hold negligent parties accountable.

Call us toll free at 888.519.6400, or contact us in Garden City at 516.248.2234, or in Flushing-Queens, Brooklyn or the Bronx at 718.539.3100. You can also fill in our contact form, and we will get in touch with you.

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