During labor and delivery, it is extremely important that the baby receive enough oxygen to avoid fetal asphyxia, or the lack of oxygen to the brain. Lack of oxygen can cause brain damage. Brain damage in an infant can result in serious developmental disabilities. Such disabilities include learning disabilities, speech problems, cognitive disability, emotional difficulties, and motor skill problems. If injuries result, a child with these disabilities will require special care throughout their lives.
There are many different events that can impact the oxygen supply to a baby. These events include medications administered to the mother, compression of the umbilical cord during contractions, contractions that are too frequent and/or too strong, high or low blood pressure of the mother, pre-eclampsia or eclampsia, the umbilical cord being obstructed, placental abruption, breech presentation, and prolonged labor.
When the baby is experiencing fetal asphyxiation they will show fetal distress. Signs of fetal distress include certain fetal heart rate patterns which show that the infant is in need of rescuing. When this occurs the infant’s environment has become hostile and life threatening. This warrants immediate intervention, possibly through cesarean section.
Most of the time there are multiple medical staff members monitoring the fetus’ heart rate and are very experienced in doing so. However, there are times where a health care provider will make a serious mistake and incorrectly read the fetal monitor or fail to take necessary steps to intervene.
Failure of a doctor, nurse, or midwife to detect the possibility of oxygen deprivation to the fetus, and if an injury occurs, they may have committed medical malpractice. All medical professionals should be using fetal monitoring during the birth. If insufficient oxygen to the fetus is not noted or properly addressed the medical professional may be liable for the child’s injuries.
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