Shortly before, during and after birth are critical times in an infant's life. The birthing process puts considerable demands on a young body. We go from living in the warm comfort of a womb to life on the outside. Our lungs go from being out of work for most of nine months to having to perform the critical job of oxygenating our blood.
In 2002, the National Center for Health Statistics reported asphyxia neonatorum (newborn lack of oxygen) was the 10th major cause of newborn death, occurring in 14.4 babies for every 100,000 live births in the U.S.
Asphyxiation in the newborn is a medical emergency which if not treated promptly can lead to brain damage or death. Deprivation of oxygen to the newborn's brain during the perinatal (around the time of birth) period may be one of the causes of cerebral palsy. Other causes include prematurity of the newborn, low birth weight, infection or inflammation, multiple births, other complications of pregnancy, and possibly genetic predisposition.
About two babies in 1,000 are born with cerebral palsy in developed countries around the world. Because of the increased survival of very premature and low birth weight infants due to advances in neonatal care, the incidence of cerebral palsy may be increasing.
Medical Mistakes Linked to Baby Asphyxiation
During labor and delivery, the following put the baby at risk for hypoxia or deficient levels of oxygen reaching the body's tissues:
- Umbilical cord compression or umbilical cord strangling the baby
- Preterm delivery
- Difficult delivery
- Umbilical anesthesia (intravenous drugs as well as anesthetic gases cross the placenta and may sedate the fetus)
- Shoulder dystocia (occurs when after the baby's head emerges the anterior shoulder gets stuck behind the public bone)
Shoulder Dystocia, Asphyxiation and Cerebral Palsy
Shoulder dystocia can delay the birth of the child and lead to asphyxiation, possibly resulting in cerebral palsy. The dangers of shoulder dystocia are that:
- The umbilical cord can become entrapped, depriving the newborn of oxygen
- The baby's chest cannot expand sufficiently
- Severe brain damage or death may result if the infant is not delivered in just a few minutes.
Shoulder dystocia requires the delivering doctor to maneuver the baby's body appropriately to allow it to be born. It is a critical moment for the baby and proper intervention by the doctor.
Contact a Cerebral Palsy Birth Injury Lawyer
If your baby suffered a birth injury that you think may have been caused by medical negligence, contact our birth injury lawyers for help. We may be able to help you seek compensation.