Fetal Hypoxia and Related Complications

Shay Morrigan | December 4th, 2012 | Posted in Cerebral Palsy Lawsuit News

Many birth injuries are related to a condition known as “fetal hypoxia,” which means that the fetus was deprived of oxygen for a period of time within the womb or birth canal. This oxygen deprivation can then lead to other problems, like cerebral palsy, heart problems, and even death. In fact, of all cerebral palsy causes, hypoxia is one of the most common.

Parents who have a baby diagnosed with fetal hypoxia may benefit from a consultation with a cerebral palsy lawyer, as the condition may have come about because of medical negligence. The attorneys at Balkin & Eisbrouch may be able to help parents recover damages in court.

What causes hypoxia?

There are many reasons why a fetus may not receive enough oxygen during birth. There may be a problem with how the placenta transfers oxygen to the fetus, the mother may have a medical condition that lowers her oxygen levels, or the healthcare practitioners may make mistakes during delivery. Babies who are born prematurely, or who must endure a long labor are also more at risk.

If a doctor prescribes Pitocin to stimulate or speed up labor, and fails to properly monitor the fetus’ condition, the contractions may become too aggressive, compressing the baby and leading to hypoxia. The umbilical cord may become compressed and doctors may fail to order a timely cesarean section, leaving the baby without oxygen for too long a time.

One of the main ways doctors can tell if a baby may be suffering from a lack of oxygen is through the fetal monitor. Drops in heart rate often correlate with diminished oxygen supply. Doctors who are paying attention will take immediate corrective measures. Those who are slow to make corrections may be held liable for medical negligence.

After birth, signs that the baby may suffer from hypoxia include a blue or pale skin color, low heart rate, weak muscle tone, weak or no cry, and difficulty breathing.

Fetal distress vs. fetal hypoxia

The term “fetal distress” is sometimes used to describe fetal hypoxia. In recent years, however, the use of the term has come into disfavor with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), as it can also mean other things. The ACOG now urges physicians to employ the phrase “nonreassuring fetal heart rate tracing” for problems associated with fetal heart rate.

Fetal distress can be used to describe any fetus that is not well either during pregnancy or delivery.

Cerebral palsy lawyer can help

Fetal hypoxia can lead to many life-changing problems. Cerebral palsy causes include fetal hypoxia, but the condition can also lead to epilepsy, chronic heart and lung disease, and hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE).

If you or a loved one had a child who suffered from fetal hypoxia, and you believe medical negligence may be to blame, contact a cerebral palsy lawyer at Balkin & Eisbrouch. We have over 40 years experience fighting for the rights of children harmed by substandard care, and can help your family to receive the compensation you deserve.