Asphyxia of All Levels Can Have Long-Term Effects on Newborns

Asphyxia of All Levels Can Have Long-Term Effects on Newborns

by / Wednesday, 23 May 2018 / Published in Birth Trauma
Mother holding baby in hands resting on her legs

A lack of oxygen during childbirth can result in many different effects for the child, the severity of which largely depends on how prolonged the lack of oxygen continued for. But even in cases of mild oxygen deprivation, there might still be long-term effects to cope with.

During a 2014 study conducted by the University College Cork in Ireland, researchers looked at 60 infants who experienced hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), a brain injury which occurs when the baby’s brain doesn’t receive enough oxygen or blood around the time of birth. HIE is a common cause of infant death, but it ultimately occurs in varying degrees of severity. In this study, they found that even in cases of mild HIE, there seemed to be an increased risk of developmental delays, behavioral problems, and learning disabilities years later. 18-20% of the infants studied who had mild HIE experienced problems like speech delays, autism, and ADD. Lower IQ scores, poor memory, and lower processing speeds were also linked to cases of both mild and moderate HIE.

This wasn’t the first study to link HIE to long-term effects, but Professor Geraldine Boylan explained that most other research has suggested that only infants who experienced moderate or severe HIE experienced long-term issues, not ones who experienced mild HIE.

A lack of oxygen during birth can be caused by several different issues, including preeclampsia, umbilical cord prolapse, fetal distress, physical trauma, overmedication in the mother, and shoulder dystocia. In addition to HIE, oxygen deprivation during birth can result in cerebral palsy, seizure disorders, behavioral problems, and developmental delays. In the most extreme cases, a child could die of asphyxia if appropriate measures aren’t taken quickly enough.

Even though many of the things that cause a lack of oxygen during labor and delivery are beyond the control of medical professionals, it’s extremely important that they take quickly take action when it becomes clear that the child isn’t getting enough oxygen. According to a study published in 2013, research conducted in Norway found that human error was the most common cause of infant asphyxiation at birth. In cases that involved human error, the researchers behind this study found that inadequate fetal monitoring, lack of clinical knowledge, non-compliance with clinical guidelines, failing to ask for assistance from senior medical staff, and medication mistakes were all some of the most common reasons why infant asphyxia occurred.

Sometimes, it takes years to become aware of the full extent of birth injuries caused by a lack of oxygen. If your child experienced a lack of oxygen during delivery and you suspect they might have a health issue because of it, don’t be afraid to contact a birth trauma lawyer, even if your child is a few years old. You have questions you need answers to, especially if your child has a condition which will require long-term care and treatment. A lawyer will understand exactly what you’re going through and can help you figure out what your options are and what steps you’ll need to take next.

At Goodwin & Scieszka our seasoned personal injury lawyers understand cerebral palsy symptoms and how other birth injuries can impact family and friends. Contact us to see how we can help you and your loved ones through your trying times.