Lack of Oxygen at Birth: Can It Cause Problems Later in Life?

Many different types of birth injuries could affect a child during childbirth. One of them involves a lack of oxygen, also known as birth asphyxia. If your child has suffered this injury during birth, you might want to know what to do, what future problems to expect, and how to handle the situation.

Can Oxygen Deprivation at Birth Cause Later Problems?

Oxygen deprivation during childbirth can lead to long-term complications. Even if the child has experienced a mild form of oxygen deprivation, it increases the risk that they will experience future problems like developmental delays and certain disabilities. A child can also develop physical disabilities as a result of birth asphyxia. Many of these conditions can be permanent, needing lifelong medical treatment.


Judge Dan Hinde

One of the most common complications linked with oxygen deprivation at birth is hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy or HIE. This term describes how a baby’s brain functions after a birth injury caused by the lack of adequate oxygen during childbirth. Infants affected by HIE can develop serious conditions that can affect their lifetimes. Some babies even die as a result of severe oxygen deprivation.

What Are the Effects of Oxygen Deprivation?

When a baby suffers from oxygen deprivation during childbirth, it can lead to serious complications. In addition to the brain being affected, other organs such as the heart, lungs, and muscles might suffer. Often, a lack of oxygen affects the brain and manifests in various ways. The most common of those effects include the following:

  • Developmental delays such as missed milestones and coordination problems
  • Behavioral developmental issues
  • Learning disabilities affecting thinking and speech
  • Epilepsy and other speech problems
  • Cerebral palsy

If a baby suffers from mild oxygen deprivation, it might mean they can recover. However, permanent injuries can affect internal organs.



What Can Cause Lack of Oxygen During Childbirth?

Different factors can lead to a lack of oxygen during childbirth. It could even be due to a combination of factors when it happens. Some of the most common include the following:

  • The mother’s blood has too little oxygen,
  • Infections,
  • Umbilical cord problems such as it wrapping around the baby’s neck,
  • The baby has a blocked airway,
  • Difficult or long labor and delivery,
  • Very high or very low blood pressure in the mother,
  • The placenta separating from the uterus prematurely,
  • Negligence by the doctor or other medical staff,

These problems might mean that there’s an issue of medical malpractice. In addition, doctors must act quickly if there’s a potential complication during childbirth. For example, if the umbilical cord has wrapped around the baby’s neck, swift intervention should be taken, such as an emergency C-section. If any of these situations have occurred and left your child injured, it’s important to talk to an oxygen deprivation birth injury lawyer to explore your legal options.

What Possible Problems Could You Expect Later in Life After Oxygen Deprivation During Birth?

Depending on the level of oxygen deprivation your child has suffered, they could be left with problems that can stay with them later in life. Fast treatment can sometimes prevent serious damage, but infants can suffer damage immediately. Some children might not live to see their second birthdays if the oxygen deprivation is severe. Other babies could suffer the following problems and grow up to continue having them:

  • Cerebral palsy,
  • Epilepsy,
  • Mental disabilities, some of which could be severe,
  • Lack of mobility,
  • Muscle spasms,
  • Mental health conditions like anxiety or depression,
  • Learning disabilities,
  • Autism spectrum disorder,
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD.

These medical conditions can seriously impact a child’s life. It’s important to closely watch your child if they suffered oxygen deprivation at birth to see if they have missed milestones as they reach their first birthday. If your child has suffered, it could follow them into their adulthood.

If your child has any birth injury caused by oxygen deprivation, speak with an attorney about your case. Unfortunately, birth injuries and medical malpractice are difficult legal cases. Still, with the help of a prominent and specialized law firm, you could get the compensation you deserve to meet your child’s needs and help your family overcome this tragedy.

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