Birth Asphyxia Attorneys
Birth asphyxia is a condition in which a baby’s oxygen supply is too low or cut off long enough to cause damage to the vital organs, including the brain, before, during, or after birth. While it’s entirely possible that a baby’s oxygen may be low or cut off briefly during birth with no resulting damage, health care professionals should be on the lookout for possible low oxygen and remedy the situation as soon as possible if it can’t be avoided all together.
It’s a common for a baby to have its oxygen cut off – about 1 in every 250 births is complicated by asphyxia to some degree – but not every instance causes injury to the baby. It may be more common for birth asphyxia to happen in premature births where the babies’ lungs and airways aren’t yet fully developed. However, the issue is that asphyxia, which just means lack of oxygen, can happen quickly or part of the routine course of childbirth, without raising red flags.
This doesn’t mean that this can’t be detected, expected, or prevented, especially when prolonged asphyxia causes obvious symptoms. When asphyxia raises a red flag, or when it’s a definite possibility, health care professionals have a duty to act to ensure that the baby isn’t harmed.
Sign and Symptoms of Birth Asphyxia
It’s fairly easy to tell when a baby isn’t breathing, but there are few signs to look for:
- The baby is born quiet,
- The baby appears blue, violet, or has bluish skin or lips,
- The baby is gasping or hyperventilating, or
- The baby is limp.
Causes of Birth Asphyxia
There are many conditions and problems that could cause a baby to have its oxygen cut off for any length of time:
- Meconium Aspiration: Meconium is a sticky matter that the baby may ingest or inhale while in utero but fail to fully expel from their lungs during vaginal labor.
- Low Maternal Blood Pressure: Since the baby in utero gets oxygen from the mother via the blood that’s fed through the umbilical cord, mothers with low blood pressure are sending less oxygen than needed to the baby. Maternal blood pressure lowers during pregnancy, but it generally increases during the third trimester and during labor.
- Umbilical Prolapse (pinched or coming out before the baby does): If the umbilical cord comes out before the baby does, it can be pinched by the cervix, cutting off the blood supply to the baby, and even causing cellular death to the umbilical cord before the baby is ready to breathe on its own.
- Umbilical Strangulation: Sometimes, babies are born with the umbilical cord wrapped around their necks.
- Placenta Detaching from the Uterus Too Soon: The placenta is supposed to stay attached to the uterus during labor and then detach after the baby is born.
- Prolonged Labor and Delivery: Sometimes, actual labor and delivery take much longer than anticipated, such as if the baby is large and becomes caught on the pelvis.
- Multiple Births: Multiple births, such as twins, increase the risks of many things, including one baby not getting enough oxygen due to crowding, prolonged labor, and other complications.
- Serious Infection in the Mother: Sometimes, if the mother is seriously ill when giving birth, the quality and quantity of oxygen in her blood may be lower.
- Baby’s Airway Not Formed Properly: A baby’s airway may not be properly formed due to a birth defect or to premature birth. This makes the baby unable to properly draw in breaths and exhale.
- Anemia in the Baby: Anemia is a condition in which there isn’t a healthy level of red blood cells in the body. Red blood cells carry oxygen, and fewer red blood cells mean that the blood has less oxygen than it should.
Risk Factors for Birth Asphyxia
Some pregnancy conditions and circumstances can make birth asphyxia more likely and more severe:
- Maternal age: very young mothers and older mothers,
- Breech birth or the baby not coming out head first,
- Pre-eclampsia and eclampsia,
- Severe bleeding of the mother during and right after birth,
- No medical care immediately after birth,
- Multiple births, and
- Amniotic fluid with too much meconium in it.
Did Your Baby Suffer Birth Asphyxia?
Asphyxia can happen naturally or through negligence. Either way, medical professionals have a duty to make sure that babies aren’t injured by asphyxia, especially since the signs and the possible causes give them warning that the baby is in trouble.
Prolonged lack of oxygen can cause health and neurological problems that may manifest right away or take years to show up. These problems can be with a child for the rest of their lives, and rehabilitation, healthcare, and other care costs time, money, and energy. However, if birth asphyxia was due to the negligence of medical professionals, you may be able to recover damages.
Birth Asphyxia Settlements in Florida
- A $37.85 million verdict in Tampa for the parents of a child who suffered birth asphyxia due to a delayed cesarean section once it was known the fetus was in distress. The baby developed cerebral palsy and spastic quadriplegia.
- $12 million settlement in Miami-Dade County for parents of a child who suffered birth asphyxia due to hospital negligence in failing to properly treat the baby once she began showing signs of fetal distress. As a result, the baby suffered severe and permanent brain damage.
- $2 million settlement in Duval County for the mother of a baby who suffered mental retardation and other ailments due to prolonged asphyxia after the hospital failed to address the mother’s acute illness.
When Should You Contact an Attorney?
If your baby suffered birth asphyxia and you believe it caused an injury, contact our attorneys as soon as possible for a free case evaluation. Kaire & Heffernan attorneys can advise you and determine if you have a case against the medical professional(s) or hospital that failed to provide your baby with the care it needed.
It may be a few years since your child’s birth, but speaking to a lawyer as soon as you know that there’s an injury helps to prevent you from losing your chance to bring a lawsuit. Birth injuries can be emotionally taxing as well as expensive to care for, and they may impede a child’s ability to grow into an adult that can take care of themselves and experience all the things life has to offer. Children who are hurt through a medical professional’s negligence deserve justice.