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How Hypoxia Can Occur During Childbirth

Hypoxia occurs when the brain does not receive enough oxygen. This can occur at various times before, during, and after the delivery of a child. Hypoxia in a child can lead to a significant brain injury. If these incidents are not noticed quickly or are not properly treated, hypoxia can lead to significant permanent disabilities, including cognitive disorders, cerebral palsy, and hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). A birth injury attorney in Houston can help you assess your legal options if your child was harmed by hypoxia during childbirth. 

What Causes Hypoxia in Childbirth?

There are various ways that a child can experience hypoxia before and during labor. Some of the most common causes of hypoxia in a child include:

  • Some types of infection
  • Umbilical cord injuries
  • Prolapse of the umbilical cord (the umbilical cord leaves the uterus before or at the same time as the child, cutting off blood supply)
  • Placental abruption (placental lining separates from the uterus)
  • Placental insufficiency (blood issue that leads to lack of growth for the placenta)
  • Heart disease or cardiovascular issues for the child
  • Blood vessel abnormalities in the brain of the child
  • Oxygen deprivation
  • The umbilical cord becoming wrapped around the child’s neck

The longer hypoxia is left untreated, the more likely it is that the child will sustain a permanent injury or die as a result of a lack of oxygen. It is critical for hypoxia to be identified as quickly as possible during the labor and delivery process.

Can This Be Treated?

The labor and delivery process is arduous, and many medical professionals will be working on monitoring the mother and the child. Hypoxia can be treated if caught quickly, but that is no guarantee that there will not be any type of permanent injury to the child.

The first step in treating hypoxia in a newborn is stabilizing the oxygen flow and monitoring the child’s oxygen levels. In some cases, the child may need to be resuscitated.

Once a child is stabilized, they may need to undergo various types of medical treatment. This can include fluid management, ensuring adequate ventilation, and managing hypothermia or hyperthermia. Doctors and medical professionals will need to monitor the child to see if the hypoxia has progressed into a permanent brain injury. This could lead to cognitive defects, cerebral palsy, or various other types of disabilities. The treatment, if another type of injury results from the hypoxia, becomes managing the child’s disabilities. Unfortunately, hypoxia can lead to a child needing lifelong care.

Is This Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice claims arise anytime a medical professional makes a mistake that causes harm to a patient. It should be said that not every injury or illness that occurs during a medical procedure has to do with medical malpractice. The field of medicine is complex, and there are times when bad things do happen that are the fault of no one.

However, in the event the child’s hypoxia was caused by a negligent medical professional, the parents may be able to file a Houston medical malpractice claim in an attempt to recover various types of compensation. Medical professionals could be responsible for hypoxia if they failed to monitor the mother or child’s vital signs, failed to initiate a C-section if one was called for, misused vacuum devices or forceps, or failed to notice abnormalities that caused the hypoxia that should have otherwise been noticed.

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