When A Lack Of Oxygen Leads To Infant Brain Damage

The birth of a child is something parents look forward to, and it’s an exciting time in life. And although parents hope their child will be born without complications, it’s very possible for infants to suffer birth injuries, including brain damage. There are many causes of¬†infant brain damage, and one of the most common is from oxygen deprivation.

Causes of Birth Asphyxia

Oxygen deprivation, also known as birth asphyxia, typically occurs as a result of:

  • umbilical cord problems
  • the placenta separating from the uterus too early
  • the baby caught in the birth canal for too long
  • constricted airways
  • anemia at birth
  • problems with the mother’s blood pressure

Whenever a baby is deprived of oxygen for even a few minutes, brain damage can occur.

With birth asphyxia, there are two stages of injury. First, cell damage occurs within minutes if the child is without oxygen. In the second stage, injury occurs after normal blood flow and oxygen are restored to the brain but toxins are released from the damaged cells. As a result of insufficient oxygen, conditions such as anoxia and hypoxia can occur. Anoxia is caused from the absence of oxygen, and hypoxia occurs due to low oxygen levels. Both anoxia and hypoxia can cause brain damage.

Because the human body needs oxygen to survive, cells can suffer temporary or permanent damage quickly. The length of time that a baby is without oxygen will determine the extent of brain damage. For example, some infants with mild asphyxia will be able to make full recoveries, but babies who are deprived of oxygen for an extended period of time typically suffer permanent brain damage and disorders such as cerebral palsy.

Contact a Virginia Brain Injury Lawyer Today

While some brain damage may be minimized with prompt treatment, doctors and nurses whose negligence causes anoxic or hypoxic brain injuries should be held responsible. To learn more about pursuing a medical malpractice claim, please call our office, or fill out a short firm on our website to get a free copy of our book, What You Need to Know Before Pursuing a Medical Malpractice Case.


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