Currently, more than a million people in the U.S. have brain damage, and many of these are infants.
Lack of oxygen is often responsible for brain damage to a newborn. Has this happened to your baby?
A little background
According to information in the American Journal of Neuroradiology, a lack of oxygen that occurs shortly after birth is a major reason for asphyxia. There are two categories of brain damage resulting from oxygen loss. One type is hypoxia, an insufficient amount of oxygen, which can lead to mild or moderate brain damage. Anoxia occurs when there is a complete lack of oxygen and the possibility of severe brain damage.
How it happens
There are four major reasons for lack of sufficient oxygen at birth:
- Birth canal issues: If the mother is having a difficult labor, the baby can become lodged in the birth canal
- Umbilical cord problems: A prolapsed, twisted or knotted umbilical cord can cut off oxygen supply before the infant is able to breathe on its own
- Blocked airways: Mucous sometimes lodges in the baby’s lungs, which can constrict airways
- Placental eruption: A separation between placenta and uterus can occur too quickly causing a reduction in the infant’s oxygen supply
In all cases, medical intervention must be swift to prevent oxygen deprivation.
Physical trauma can also cause brain damage in infants during labor and delivery. For example, the doctor assisting in delivery may pull too hard. If used improperly, tools such as forceps can cause the baby physical injury including brain damage. Additionally, a long and difficult labor with many contractions and the need for much pushing can cause the baby to suffer brain damage.
Obstetricians and their attending personnel must adhere to accepted standards of care in order to prevent birth injuries. Negligence on the part of medical teams during the birth process can result in injury to a newborn, including lack of oxygen and brain damage, which, in turn, may constitute grounds for a malpractice claim.