Hasner Law | Birth injuries | May 21, 2022
All people need oxygen to live. But that need for oxygen is particularly important in newborns. Even a mild lack of oxygen in a newborn can have severe consequences.
When oxygen enters the body, it travels through the bloodstream, eventually reaching the brain. The human brain requires a regular supply of oxygen to function properly.
When a newborn’s brain is deprived of oxygen, the condition is called hypoxic-ischaemic encephalopathy (HIE). According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, this condition occurs in roughly 4% of newborns.
What Damage is Caused by HIE?
Because newborn brains are still developing, they are harmed by reduced oxygen levels that wouldn’t affect an adult brain. Even a minute without oxygen can result in developmental damage that lasts a lifetime. But even if oxygen isn’t completely cut off, reduced oxygen for significant lengths of time can also cause similar damage.
Depending on how long a newborn was affected by HIE, this condition can cause:
- Immediate death or death after a few years
- Developmental delays
- Lack of mobility or paralysis
- Loss of senses
- Mental retardation and brain damage
- Mental health conditions like ADHD or depression
- Organ failure
When the brain doesn’t receive oxygen, brain cells die. While losing a few brain cells might be trivial to an adult, it is devastating to a newborn. Those lost brain cells never get a chance to perform functions like learning how to walk or speak, and there is no way to replace lost brain functions.
The worst cases of HIE are when a baby is born with significantly reduced amounts of oxygen (colloquially known as “blue babies”). Studies of blue babies have shown that 40% to 60% either suffer severe disabilities or die before their second year of life.
There is some hope if the newborn receives immediate treatment, but this degree of HIE is extremely dangerous.
What Are the Causes of HIE?
The majority of causes of this condition are natural. Long deliveries or an umbilical cord wrapped around the baby’s neck can result in reduced oxygen at birth. The doctor supervising the birth should be aware of the danger and take steps to mitigate reduced oxygen, even when it is naturally occurring.
When a doctor or other hospital staff member fails to take the appropriate steps, that negligence can lead to a newborn suffering preventable HIE. That is medical malpractice that can potentially result in the wrongful death of a child.
If medical workers have negligently caused your newborn to suffer from HIE, you should get help from an experienced local attorney practicing personal injury law.
What is the Treatment for Newborns Suffering Consequences from HIE?
The best treatment for HIE is the treatment that hospitals and doctors provide immediately after birth. If your doctor recognizes the signs, they will try to lower your baby’s temperature and keep them well oxygenated for the first few days after birth.
When such actions are taken promptly, they will usually reduce or prevent any long-term consequences.
After that window, you can mostly only treat the symptoms. Depending on the severity of the damage, this may mean your child requires physical therapy, surgery, or prescription drugs in the future. For severe damage like paralysis or cerebral palsy, your child may require the assistance of a nurse for the rest of their life.
This is a tough situation that requires significant love and care from parents, as well as a lot of money. If a doctor or hospital was responsible, the latter could be obtained from a personal injury lawsuit.
Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer for Help if Your Baby Suffered Adverse Health Effects Due to Lack of Oxygen at Birth
If your baby suffered from HIE or any other condition due to lack of oxygen at birth, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer to discuss your case. While some conditions may have resulted from natural causes, others may have been due to a medical professional’s negligence.
Contact the Savannah Birth Injury Lawyers at Hasner Law, P.C. For Help
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