Expectant parents in Pennsylvania rely on their physicians to ensure that their child does not suffer a birth injury. One serious type of birth injury is perinatal asphyxia.
Perinatal asphyxia occurs when the fetus or newborn does not have enough oxygen in its blood, or there is not enough blood in the fetus’s or newborn’s tissues. There are a number of causes of perinatal asphyxia.
One reason a fetus or infant could suffer from perinatal asphyxia is if a genetic abnormality exists. Another is if the fetus is infected. Certain types of drugs the mother ingests while pregnant could cause perinatal asphyxia. If too much pressure is placed on the umbilical cord, a blood clot in the umbilical cord, too much blood is lost and finally, if there is an issue with the placenta and it fails to deliver an adequate amount of oxygen to the fetus during the birth process, this could also result in perinatal asphyxia.
When a baby suffers perinatal asphyxia, its organs may be damaged, as can its brain function. Kidney and lung problems could also occur.
The baby may be lethargic, suffer from seizures or could even be in a coma. Sometimes, perinatal asphyxia results in permanent neurologic damage. This includes anything from learning delays to cerebral palsy or death.
It is up to physicians to recognize the signs of perinatal asphyxia, and treat them accordingly. For example, if there is an infection, antibiotics may be necessary. If there is blood loss, a blood transfusion might be necessary. And, if the infant’s head is cooled for a few hours after being born, this might help prevent injuries to the infant’s brain.
Because perinatal asphyxia can cause lifelong problems, it is important that it is not overlooked. Physicians who fail in this duty may have committed medical malpractice, if a physician in similar circumstances would have recognized the infant is suffering from perinatal asphyxia and would have provided the proper medical care. Parents whose child has suffered from perinatal asphyxia may want to learn more about their legal options for pursuing compensation for the damages they have suffered.
Source: MerckManuals.com, “Birth Injury,” accessed on May 21, 2017