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Understanding birth asphyxia

At the Law Office of Robert A. Miller in Oregon, we know how devastating a birth injury can be, not only for your baby, but also for yourself and other family members. While some birth injuries are more catastrophic than others, all of them are catastrophic for you since they affect your precious baby’s immediate and possibly future health and welfare.

As the Seattle Children’s Hospital explains, birhyxia is a birth injury that occurs in less than 1 percent of live births in the U.S. Nevertheless, it poses a serious risk to your baby, especially if (s)he arrives prematurely. If (s)he fails to receive sufficient oxygen before, during or immediately after birth, this could injure his or her brain or other organs.

Birth asphyxia causes

Some of the most common causes of birth asphyxia include the following:

  • Premature separation of the placenta from your uterus
  • Problems with the umbilical cord during birth
  • Unusual length or difficulty of the delivery
  • Blockage or malformation of your baby’s airway
  • Insufficient oxygen to your baby’s organs because of anemia

Apgar score

Immediately after his or her birth, the doctors will test your baby on the following five factors:

  1. Appearance (skin color)
  2. Pulse (heart rate)
  3. Grimace response (reflexes)
  4. Activity (muscle tone)
  5. Respiration (breathing rate and effort)

Together the scores of these tests, ranging from zero to two each, add up to your baby’s overall Apgar score. If your baby’s Apgar score totals between zero and three, the doctors will retest him or her about five minutes later. Should the score still remain between zero and three, this indicates that your baby suffers from birth asphyxia. How serious his or her injury is depends on how long the oxygen insufficiency remains, how low his or her oxygen level actually is, and how quickly doctors begin appropriate treatment, including mechanical ventilation if necessary. A severe case of birth asphyxia could result in permanent damage to your baby’s brain or other organs such as his or her eyes, heart, kidneys, lungs, bowel or nervous system.

For additional information, please visit this page of our website.