Birth asphyxia occurs when there is an insufficient oxygen supply delivered to a fetus before, during, or right after birth. This can happen before birth, when there is too little oxygen in the mother’s blood; during delivery, if the baby becomes entangled in the umbilical cord; or immediately after birth, when there is significant blood loss or inadequate respiration. When this occurs, the baby’s brain may be damaged because of a lack of oxygen and if untreated, this brain damage may be irreversible. This may lead to cerebral palsy, developmental disabilities, and other disorders.
The risk of cerebral palsy and other developmental disabilities due to birth asphyxia is increased during difficult deliveries. Above average baby weight, a breech birth, or the inability of the baby’s shoulders to pass through the birth canal can all present difficulties during childbirth. There is no cure for cerebral palsy and children with it will generally require regular medical care. Children with birth asphyxia cerebral palsy often see physical, occupational and speech therapists regularly. The financial and emotional cost of birth asphyxia may be astronomical.
Birth asphyxia can sometimes be a result of medical negligence. For example, the doctor or nurses could have failed to recognize fetal distress on the fetal monitor, chose an inappropriate method of delivery, or failed to perform an emergency cesarean section in a timely manner. Alternatively, hospital residents or interns may not have informed the attending physician in time. If your health care provider did not respond appropriately and deviated from standard patient care and safety guidelines, then it is possible that you or your child were harmed by medical malpractice.
If you think that you or your child were harmed by medical malpractice during childbirth, you can consult with an experienced personal injury attorney for advice and assistance.