Hypoxia in Birth Injury Cases: Causes & Risks

Posted By Power Rogers & Smith, P.C. || Jun 14, 2016

Hypoxia, or a lack of oxygen to the body’s tissues, can be especially damaging to a fetus and newborn baby. Perinatal hypoxia — when the infant receives inadequate oxygen before, during, or after birth — can occur when birth complications cause the infant to stop breathing. In cases of mild hypoxia, babies can recover without any permanent disabilities. In cases of moderate to severe hypoxia, however, the potential for a permanent disability dramatically increases.

Potential Causes of Hypoxia

It’s incredibly important for medical professionals to identify cases of hypoxia as soon as possible in order to mitigate the potential damage. The longer it goes untreated, the greater the risk to the infant. Potential factors that increase the risk of hypoxia include:

  • Blood flow disorders that cause a lack of growth of the placenta
  • Brain blood vessel abnormality
  • Cardiovascular collapse
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Inadequate monitoring of the fetus
  • Infection
  • Maternal anemia
  • Maternal smoking
  • Placental abruption: when the lining of the placenta separates from the uterus
  • Shoulder dystocia: when the infant’s shoulder gets trapped behind the mother’s pubic bone during the delivery
  • Umbilical cord injuries
  • Umbilical cord prolapse: when the umbilical cord exits the uterus before, or at the same time as the fetus
  • Umbilical cord strangulation

Medical Conditions Associated With Hypoxia

According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), perinatal hypoxia and anoxia account for nearly one third of all neonatal deaths. Cerebral anoxia is when the brain fails to receive any oxygen whatsoever. There are several severe medical conditions that are associated with cerebral hypoxia and anoxia including:

With prompt treatment and intervention of doctors and nurses during delivery, these conditions can be avoided. Although many medical professionals may believe that these complications are unavoidable, a careful review of the medical records can reveal whether a baby showed warning signs of an hypoxic or anoxic condition.

At Power, Rogers & Smith, L.L.P., our Chicago birth injury attorneys have the skills, resources, and drive to handle your complex medical malpractice case. Our birth injury lawyers have been working to fight for the rights of clients for decades, and all of our attorneys have years of experience under their belts. Call us today at (312) 313-0202 to schedule your free case evaluation, or fill out the form on our website here.

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