Hypoxia Linked to ADHD
One of the most dangerous situations that can occur during childbirth is when the child stops receiving enough oxygen. Just a few minutes of oxygen deprivation can result in serious, lifelong effects, so it’s essential that the medical professionals attending to a birth stay on top of monitoring vital signs to make sure the baby is consistently getting enough oxygen.
There has long been a link between hypoxia, which is a lack of oxygen reaching the brain and other parts of the body, and various types of birth injuries. In mild cases of hypoxia, the child may be able to make a full recovery without any permanent injuries. But in other cases, a child could end up with cerebral palsy, paralysis, neurological problems, developmental delays, vision impairment, hearing loss, or intellectual disabilities. In the most severe cases, the child might even die from the lack of oxygen. But a more recent discovery has been a link between hypoxia and ADHD.
In a 2012 study by Kaiser Permanente, they examined the health records of 82,000 five-year-olds and found that exposure to ischemic-hypoxic conditions (IHC) was associated with a 16% increased risk of developing ADHD later in life. The study examined different types of IHCs, such as birth asphyxia, neonatal respiratory distress syndrome, and preeclampsia. Birth asphyxia in particular was associated with a 26% higher risk of developing ADHD while preeclampsia showed a 34% higher risk.
The connection between IHC and ADHD was found to be strongest among preterm births and deliveries that involved other complications such as the baby being in the breech or transverse positions or cord complications. Respiratory Distress Syndrome most commonly occurs in premature infants and was found to have a 47% increased risk of developing ADHD. Premature babies in general tend to be at an increased risk of suffering from brain injuries and damage caused by a lack of oxygen.
Not all types of birth injuries are immediately obvious. Since birth injuries that impact the brain often cause learning disabilities, you may not begin to see signs of a problem until the child is approaching school age. If an IHC occurred during your pregnancy or delivery and your child later began showing signs of ADHD or any learning disability, contact a birth trauma lawyer as soon as possible. According to ADDitude, about half of all children and adolescents with ADHD also have another learning disability, so ADHD might be a sign of another problem. A lawyer will be able to answer any questions you might have about your situation and help you figure out if your child’s condition could have been prevented. If there’s good reason to believe your doctor could have taken steps to avoid the IHC or that it could have been handled better, you may have grounds for a lawsuit.