Birth asphyxia or perinatal asphyxia is a potentially deadly condition for a newborn infant. Asphyxia is a lack of oxygen and blood flow to the brain. Birth asphyxia happens when an infant does not receive sufficient oxygen before, during, and after birth. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that birth asphyxia causes 900,000 newborn deaths worldwide each year. Unfortunately, birth asphyxia can be difficult to predict. It can occur for many reasons physicians or medical providers might be unable to control.

However, some of the causes of birth asphyxia are preventable. They are directly attributed to medical negligence and errors during labor and delivery. If a doctor, hospital, or other healthcare professional was negligent in causing your baby to suffer from birth asphyxia, you might be able to file a medical malpractice claim seeking compensation for the harm your baby suffered. 

Common Reasons for Birth Asphyxia

Many situations and factors could cause a baby not to have sufficient oxygen. Common causes of birth asphyxia include, but are not limited to:

  • There was insufficient oxygen in the mother’s blood before and during labor and delivery
  • The baby’s airway is blocked or not properly formed
  • Prolonged and/or very difficult labor
  • The baby has anemia causing its blood cells not to carry enough oxygen
  • The mother’s high or low blood pressure
  • Problems with the umbilical cord, including prolapsed and tangled umbilical cords
  • Problems with the placenta, including separation from the uterus too soon and placental abruption
  • Undeveloped lungs because of premature birth
  • Delays coming out of the birth canal
  • An infection in the baby or mother
  • The amniotic fluid mixes with the first bowel movement in the baby’s lungs after birth (Meconium Aspiration Syndrome)

Doctors and medical staff might be unable to prevent or predict birth asphyxia. However, they have a duty to monitor the baby and the mother before, during, and after delivery for signs of the condition. Mothers identified as high-risk for birth asphyxia can be given oxygen during labor and delivery or have a scheduled C-section to reduce the risk of complications. 

Signs and Symptoms of Birth Asphyxia in Newborns

Newborn infants should be checked immediately for signs of birth asphyxia. Babies with a higher risk of developing birth asphyxia should be monitored closely during and after delivery.

Symptoms and signs of birth asphyxia include, but are not limited to:

  • Seizures
  • Low heart rate
  • Weak reflexes
  • Bluish or pale skin
  • Increased amounts of acid in the infant’s blood
  • Abnormal heart rate
  • Not breathing or weak breathing
  • Meconium in the amniotic fluid
  • Poor muscle tone

Failure to diagnose birth asphyxia or complications of birth asphyxia could result in lifelong impairments or death for the baby. Doctors, nurses, and medical staff should be prepared to handle all situations that could arise during labor and delivery. Careful monitoring of the baby and mother is a critical component of the standard of care owed to patients. 

Long-Term Complications, Disabilities, and Impairments Caused by Birth Asphyxia

Mild asphyxia can be treated by providing the baby with breathing support and monitoring the infant until they can breathe sufficiently on their own. Severe cases of birth asphyxia may require more intensive treatments.

When the damage from the lack of oxygen is extensive or birth asphyxia is not diagnosed promptly, the infant may develop long-term conditions. Examples of complications and conditions caused by birth asphyxia include:

  • Cerebral palsy
  • Learning disorders
  • Developmental delays
  • Motor disorders
  • Epilepsy
  • Visual and hearing impairments
  • Speech delays
  • Feeding complications 
  • Behavioral disorders

The harm a baby suffers from birth asphyxia depends on the severity of the oxygen deprivation. The longer the baby’s cells were deprived of sufficient oxygen, the more severe the consequences. 

What Should I Do if I Suspect the Doctors or Hospital Staff Were Responsible for My Baby’s Birth Asphyxia?

If the birth asphyxia or the resulting conditions were caused by medical negligence or errors, you might be able to file a medical malpractice claim. Doctors, hospitals, and other healthcare providers must provide a standard of care acceptable for a specific situation. When they breach the standard of care, they can be held liable for economic and non-economic damages.

Contact an experienced Fort Worth birth asphyxia lawyer for a free consultation. An attorney can evaluate your case to determine your legal options. 

Unfortunately, many infants never recover fully from birth asphyxia and suffer lifelong impairments and disabilities. Your child might require lifelong therapy, medical care, and other resources. Birth asphyxia could impair their ability to earn a living.

A Fort Worth birth injury lawyer can help you file a claim seeking compensation for the harm your child suffered because of negligence and wrongdoing. However, the time to file a claim is restricted by the Texas statute of limitations. So, don’t delay contacting a lawyer for advice regarding a birth asphyxia injury claim. 

Contact Our Birth Injury Law Firm in Fort Worth, TX

If you’ve been injured in an accident in Fort Worth and need legal help, contact our Fort Worth birth injury lawyers at Stephens Law Personal Injury | Wrongful Death | Truck Accidents to schedule a free consultation.

Stephens Law Personal Injury | Wrongful Death | Truck Accidents
1300 S University Dr # 300
Fort Worth, TX 76107
(817) 420-7000