Birth Asphyxia Lawyers in Seattle
Perinatal Asphyxia and Medical Malpractice
Perinatal asphyxia occurs when there is too little blood flow to the tissues of the fetus or newborn, or not enough oxygen in the infant's blood. "Asphyxia" means oxygen deprivation causing unconsciousness, suffocation, or death. Birth asphyxia can result in permanent brain damage.
Oxygen deprivation in newborn infants actually occurs in two stages. The first stage is cell damage when the child is deprived of oxygen. The second stage, known as reperfusion injury, occurs after normal blood flow and oxygen are restored, and can last days, or even weeks. Injury in this phase is caused by toxins released from the damaged cells.
Infants who experience mild to moderate oxygen deprivation may recover completely with prompt medical intervention. For those whose oxygen supply is cut off for several minutes, however, birth asphyxia can cause serious injuries, including permanent brain damage, and injury to the kidneys, cardiovascular system, respiratory system, and digestive system.
There are several common causes of birth asphyxia, many of which can be prevented if health care providers are diligent in monitoring, and responding rapidly and correctly to fetal distress. If your child has suffered serious birth injuries caused by perinatal asphyxia, your best course of action is to consult with a knowledgeable birth injury attorney in Seattle. If the negligence of medical professionals caused your child's injuries, you may be able to file a claim or lawsuit to pursue full compensation.
Causes of Perinatal Asphyxia/Birth Asphyxia
As reported by Seattle Children's Hospital, birth asphyxia occurs in approximately 4 out of 1000 full-term births, and possibly more frequently among premature infants. Common causes are:
- Umbilical cord problems during delivery
- Not enough oxygen in the mother's blood before or during birth
- Protracted, difficult delivery
- Serious infection in the mother or baby
- Blocked airways in the infant
- High or low maternal blood pressure
- Infant's blood cells cannot carry enough oxygen due to anemia
- Infant's airways are not properly formed
Symptoms and Treatment for Birth Asphyxia
Before birth, abnormal fetal heart rate and low pH are indicators of birth asphyxia. With diligent fetal monitoring and rapid medical response, treatment may include:
- Giving the mother additional oxygen before delivery
- Giving the mother intravenous fluids
- Discontinuing Pitocin (Oxytocin)
- Emergency delivery
- Emergency C-section
At birth, symptoms of oxygen deprivation in the child include:
- Bluish or pale skin color
- Not breathing or breathing very weakly
- Low heart rate
- Poor muscle tone
- Weak reflexes
- Acidosis (too much acid in the blood)
- Amniotic fluid stained with meconium (infant's first stool)
Emergency treatment for a child oxygen deprived at birth may include:
- High-frequency ventilation (gentle mechanical breathing assistance)
- Nitric oxide administered through a breathing tube into the windpipe
- Bicarbonate administration
- Epinephrine administration
- Cooling the infant's internal body temperature to 33.5° C (Cold capping)
- Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) – temporary life support
Attorneys for Newborn Birth Asphyxia in Seattle
If your child has suffered serious or permanent injury from birth asphyxia caused by medical negligence, Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S. can help. We have dedicated our practice to protecting the rights of injured people throughout the state of Washington. Contact us to schedule a free consultation with a compassionate and knowledgeable birth injury lawyer.