As some New Mexico residents may know, lack of oxygen to a baby’s brain may cause lifelong disability if the condition is not treated adequately and promptly. Medical professionals who deviate from the recognized standard of care in such cases may be liable for the problems the newborn might face for the rest of his or her life.
Cerebral hypoxia, or lack of oxygen to the brain of an infant, may occur before birth, during delivery and after delivery. There are many reasons this happens. For example, injury to the umbilical cord and prolapse of the umbilical cord, which is when the cord precedes the baby, might cause the problem. In addition, placental insufficiency, which is when the placenta does not grow properly, might also decrease a child ability to receive oxygen. Other causes of cerebral hypoxia include when the baby’s shoulder is wedged behind the mother’s pubic bone during delivery and when the placenta separates from the uterine wall.
Once cerebral hypoxia is recognized, it should be treated. Without treatment, depending on the degree of hypoxia, the baby may become permanently disabled. Generally, treatment for cerebral hypoxia includes resuscitation and stabilization of the newborn. Another treatment option involves cooling the child. By using a cooling blanket to lower body temperature, this procedure decreases cell death and reduces brain swelling.
Without taking the proper steps, a newborn may develop significant, life-altering disabilities. Such problems may require lifelong treatment and supportive measures. Healthcare professionals who are not vigilant for this possibility may be considered negligent under certain circumstances.
If permanent brain damage results from the medical professional’s deviation from the standard of care, a family might experience high medical costs and medical expenses throughout an injured individual’s lifetime. An attorney may review medical records to determine if negligence contributed to the accident and might help the family file a malpractice suit to recover compensatory damages.
Source: Findlaw, “Birth Injury: Hypoxia“, July 31, 2014