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Hypoxia: A damaging but preventable injury

There are many birth injuries that can have a lasting impact on infants, but one that can be a direct result of negligence or errors is hypoxia. Hypoxia occurs when the brain does not receive enough oxygen.

Hypoxia can occur naturally, but it may also be a result of mistakes made during a woman's pregnancy or delivery. Some common causes of hypoxia include:

  • Infections
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Cardiovascular collapse
  • Shoulder dystocia
  • Brain blood vessel abnormalities
  • Placental abruption
  • Umbilical cord injuries
  • Oxygen deprivation

If a baby is born with signs of oxygen deprivation, the first goal is to make sure they are stabilized. This may mean putting the child on oxygen, working with fluid management, managing hypo- or hyperthermia or other possible treatments.

What happens if an infant has already suffered brain damage from hypoxia?

In many cases of hypoxia, damage happens quickly. Once hypoxia occurs and causes damage, the injury could progress and lead to cognitive deficits or cerebral palsy. You should know that there is no specific cure for a long-term brain injury, even though your child may see some improvement over time. If brain injuries do occur, it's important to find out why they happened and to hold any responsible party accountable, because long-term care can be costly.

Fortunately, hypoxia normally is preventable with appropriate care and attention to a mother and child's needs. If your child has suffered a birth injury as a result of a medical provider's errors or you are concerned about the ongoing care and cost of providing that care to your child, it may be worth looking into your legal options.

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