Birth asphyxia, or perinatal asphyxia, refers to oxygen deprivation during labor or delivery long enough to cause physical harm, and particularly brain damage. This oxygen deprivation can result from many factors, including excessive contractions, umbilical cord compression, preeclampsia, and instances of medical malpractice, including failure to respond to fetal distress in a timely or appropriate manner.
Understanding Your Birth Asphyxia Case
When birth asphyxia is severe, it can injure brain cells and cause potentially fatal conditions, including Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE), brain injuries, seizures, and cerebral palsy. Because brain trauma is the most serious birth injury a baby can suffer, it has the potential for devastating long-term effects that create life-long challenges for victims and families. Children who suffer brain injuries during birth can also display increased signs and symptoms as they age.
Here are some of the long-term effects of birth asphyxia:
- Difficulties with developmental milestones
- Movement disorders
- Epilepsy and seizure disorders
- Difficulty caring for themselves
- Cognitive impairments or delays
- Speech, feeding, and learning disabilities
- Behavioral or emotional disorders
- Vision and hearing problems
- Neurologic or mental health conditions
Because Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy develops when there is birth asphyxia, and because it increases the potential for permanent brain damage and long-term conditions, it is now the standard for medical professionals to administer hypothermia therapy, or head cooling, when newborns are diagnosed with HIE. Time is a critical factor in the administration of head cooling, and doctors should perform the therapy within six hours of delivery. When head cooling is performed properly and in time, research shows it can stop and prevent a significant amount of brain damage.
When medical professionals fail to meet an accepted standard of care, such as the following, risks of a baby developing serious conditions and long-term adverse health effects increase:
- Failing to perform proper
- Timely head cooling
When babies do suffer harm as a result of substandard care, families can assert their rights to hold medical professionals accountable and seek a financial recovery of their damages, which can include compensation for the future economic needs families will have as their child ages.