Fetal Asphyxia and Medical Malpractice

John Fisher
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Stopping Medical Injustice

Fetal asphyxia occurs when a baby does not get enough oxygen before, during, or just after being born.  Due to the lack of oxygen, waste can build up in the baby’s body and can lead to permanent injuries.  Asphyxia can occur in four out of every 1,000 birth and is even more common in infants who are born prematurely.  When asphyxia occurs, a baby’s brain, heart, lungs, kidneys, bowels, and other organs can be injured.  In other cases, death can result.  In premature babies, asphyxia can result in cerebral palsy, vision problems, developmental disabilities, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.


Unfortunately, there are times when asphyxia can occur and no one knows.  How much injury the baby suffers depends on how long the child has gone without oxygen and then how quickly the baby was treated properly.  


The first injurious stage of asphyxia occurs during the first few minutes the baby does not have oxygen.  In these first minutes, the baby suffers cell damage due to oxygen deprivation.  The second state is known as “reperfusion injury,” and it occurs after normal blood flow and oxygen have been restored.  It is caused by toxins that are released from damaged cells and can last for days or even weeks.


Asphyxia can result from: 


  • A lack of oxygen in the mother’s blood before or during birth
  • Separation of the placenta from the uterus too quickly
  • Long or difficult deliveries
  • Infections in the mother or baby
  • High or low blood sugar in the mother
  • Child with a blocked airway or airway that is not properly developed
  • Anemia in the baby (where the infant’s cells cannot properly carry oxygen to the organs


When a child suffers from oxygen deprivation they may experience:


  • Weak breathing or not breathing at all
  • Bluish and pale in color
  • Low heart rate
  • Poor reflexes and muscle tone
  • Seizures
  • Acidosis (a condition where there is too much acid in the blood)


The extent of an infant’s injuries can be determined by how and when the infant is treated.  If the baby is suffering from mild asphyxia, they can be given breathing support until they can breathe on their own.  However, if the baby is suffering from severe asphyxia, they may require a ventilator, respiratory therapy, and fluids and medicine to prevent seizures and to control their blood pressure.


But what do you think?  I would love to hear from you!  Leave a comment or I also welcome your phone call on my toll-free cell at 1-866-889-6882 or you can drop me an e-mail at [email protected]  You are always welcome to request my FREE book, The Seven Deadly Mistakes of Malpractice Victims, at the home page of my website at www.protectingpatientrights.com.

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