When your child is injured at birth, you want answers. You want to know: was your baby’s injury caused by a mistake of the doctor and were the injuries preventable?
The most common birth injury is brain injury to the baby caused by a lack of oxygen at birth. When your baby is not getting enough oxygen during labor and delivery, there are warning signs on the external fetal monitor, which can be a sign to the doctor or midwife that baby needs to be delivered. A delay in the delivery of your baby can cause significant brain damage called cerebral palsy. The medical term is hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, but that’s just a fancy name for brain damage caused by law of oxygen at birth.
In many cases the cause of cerebral palsy cannot be determined. But there are four factors that can be used to determine whether your baby’s brain damage was caused by a lack of oxygen during labor and delivery.
The first factor is the Apgar score. The Apgar score measures your baby’s physical well-being at 1 minute after delivery, 5 minutes after delivery and 10 minutes after delivery. A normal Apgar score is 7 or above and a perfect score is 10. If your baby’s Apgar scores are lower than 7 at 1, 5 and 10 minutes after delivery, this is a sign that your baby was not getting enough oxygen at the time of delivery. The Apgar score is the first of four factors that are used to tell whether your baby’s brain damage was caused by lack of oxygen at birth.
The second factor is the pH blood value. The pH is a blood test taken of the umbilical cord to check the acid level in the blood. If your baby is not getting enough oxygen during labor and delivery, the acid level in your baby’s blood rises. A normal pH value is 7.35 to 7.45. But the pH level can drop to 7.1 or lower when your baby is not getting enough oxygen. A pH value of 7.1 or lower is a critical factor to show that your baby suffered brain damage by lack of oxygen at birth.
Seizures within the first 24-48 hours after birth are the third factor. A seizure is a convulsion of the body caused by brain damage—this type of seizure is called a grand mal seizure. When your baby has grand mal seizures within the first 24-48 hours after birth, this is a sign that he suffered brain damage. If your baby had seizures after birth, this is one of the four signs that he suffered brain damage caused by lack of oxygen at birth.
The fourth and final factor is multi-organ dysfunction. When blood tests or imaging studies show that your baby’s vital organs are not functioning as they should, this is called multi-organ dysfunction. Blood tests may show that the kidneys and liver are not functioning well or an imaging study might show swelling in the brain or perhaps there might be damage to the heart. When your baby has more than one vital organ that isn’t functioning well, multi-organ dysfunction exists. Multi-organ dysfunction is just one more sign that your baby suffered brain damage caused by lack of oxygen at birth.
Now you have it: the four factors for determining whether brain damage was caused lack of oxygen at birth are the Apgar scores, pH blood value, seizures and multi-organ dysfunction.
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