Oxygen deprivation, also known as asphyxia, is a significant risk for babies during the labor and delivery process. Lack of oxygen at birth can have long-term effects for the infant and his or her family. Hypoxia, or reduced oxygen to the brain, can cause long-term disabilities and developmental delays. Severe oxygen deprivation or anoxia, which is the term for no oxygen reaching the brain, can also cause disabilities or even death.
Causes of Lack of Oxygen at Birth
Lack of oxygen at birth can be caused by several factors, or a combination of unfortunate circumstances. The most common problems leading to oxygen deprivation include:
- Trauma to the infant in utero
- Problems with the placenta
- Umbilical cord prolapsed
- Preeclampsia and eclampsia
- Excessive medication of the mother
- Shoulder dystocia
While some of the causes of oxygen deprivation may be out of the control of healthcare providers, obstetricians, midwives, gynecologists, and labor and delivery, staff are specially trained to manage labor and delivery, including recognizing problems. Failure to quickly recognize problems and provide solutions can result in significant damage to the infant’s body and brain.
Long-Term Effects of Oxygen Deprivation
Lack of oxygen at birth can result in long-term effects that affect the entire family. Infants suffering from oxygen deprivation often develop disabilities, such as cerebral palsy, autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), seizures, and behavioral problems. Such conditions often require long-term specialized care including medication, occupational, physical, and behavioral therapies, specialized educational methods, and even home modification. These requirements can be financially and emotionally taxing for many families.
Financially, the lifetime costs for individuals with cerebral palsy and/or other intellectual disabilities are estimated to be close to $1 million, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Conditions such as autism and epilepsy also may require significant financial resources in order to maintain a functioning quality of life for the individual.
Unlike many illnesses, the consequences of oxygen deprivation most often last for a lifetime. Texas families facing this unfortunate circumstance who believe that medical negligence led to their child’s injuries should consider obtaining legal guidance about protection of their rights.