Anoxia is a type of a brain injury, but it isn’t caused by blunt force trauma. It happens when a person’s brain is completely deprived of oxygen. Without oxygen, brain cells start dying after about four minutes. They die quickly too. If a person survives anoxia, their brain function is likely to be permanently diminished. Anoxia can lead to profound physical and mental disabilities and even blindness. If the oxygen deprivation continues, the person suffering from anoxia will die.
Anoxia is the most common cause of an injury to a newborn baby’s brain and nervous system. Although it’s a risk whenever a child is born, some cases of anoxia are traced back to medical malpractice. An infant must be sufficiently oxygenated during the birth process. That’s why fetal monitoring is critically important before birth. A heart rate that’s elevated might be a sign that an infant is experiencing a life-threatening event. Careful attention must be given to fetal heart monitor readings, and doctors must be fully prepared to intervene when necessary. Here are some of the reasons why an infant might be deprived of oxygen at birth:
- Umbilical Cord Issues: An umbilical cord might become twisted, flattened or even knotted. Any of these cord issues can deprive an infant of oxygen. The cord can also become wrapped around a baby’s neck. That’s when doctors only have a few precious moments to save the baby. Doctors might also cut the umbilical cord too early. The baby must be breathing properly and independently before the cord can be cut.
- Problems With the Birth Canal: If a mother is experiencing a difficult delivery, the baby might become lodged and stuck in the birth canal. Without immediate assistance, there is a high risk of the baby losing its blood and oxygen supply. These babies are also at risk of secondary issues like Erb’s palsy.
- Clogged Airways: The baby needs clear airways to breathe. Mucus deposits might lodge in a baby’s lungs or airways. Quick action must be taken to clear those airways.
- Placental Abruption: This occurs when the placenta and uterus separate too quickly. Bleeding can occur that reduces or deprives a baby of an oxygen supply.
- Poor Fetal Monitoring: The baby might be in distress, but it might not be noticed.
- The failure to perform a timely C-section.
- The failure to properly respond to fetal distress.
There are symptoms that might indicate that a baby suffered an anoxic injury to the brain. Here are a few of them:
- Weak arms, hands and legs.
- Neck stiffness.
- Difficulty focusing visually.
- Motion that appears to be spastic or jerky.
- Prolonged states of unconsciousness.
- Prolonged crying.
- Feeding issues.
Consequences of Anoxic Brain Injury
Anoxia can permanently affect a newborn’s life. If issues of permanency arise, they can be both cognitive and physical, including:
- Developmental delays.
- Difficulty processing visual information.
- Difficulty with speech.
- Overall weakness, spasms and involuntary jerking.
Talk to Us
After an anoxic brain injury, a multi-disciplinary treatment plan must be put in place. It might include surgery plus different types of therapy. The costs of the plan will be overwhelming. If you live in or around Louisville, and you suspect that your child’s anoxic brain injury was the result of medical malpractice, you’ll want to speak with us about a potential claim.
Proving that an anoxic brain injury at birth was the result of medical malpractice is a complex endeavor. If it happened to your child, we can be of great help in learning how and why it happened. If we believe that a medical malpractice case exists, we’ll seek damages for the child’s suffering, disability, care and treatment. You can contact us either by phone or by email to arrange for a confidential and free consultation and case assessment with a Louisville brain injury lawyer from our offices. We are a compassionate, family oriented law firm with highly skilled attorneys who work with birth injuries across Kentucky and Indiana.