The effects of oxygen deprivation at birth on the brain
Our brain is a mass of electrical impulses responsible for telling the body what to do, when, and how. Without proper brain function, a person's quality of life can plummet to the point where they are permanently disabled. Brain injuries are devastating when they happen, and often leave lasting damage and trauma. These can come in the form of a concussion, outside trauma, surgical error, a spinal injury, or happen at birth due to medical malpractice.
Oxygen is essential for the brain to function, and incredibly important for a fetus to grow in utero. Without proper oxygen, development can be stunted or delayed. The Law Firm of Joseph F. Brown, MD, JD, PLLC - Physician and Attorney at Law, knows that brain injuries can happen to any family. That's why we offer a free consultation for people who think their child may have been adversely affected by a lack of oxygen at birth.
The blood that flows through an umbilical cord also carries the fetus's oxygen supply. A problem with the umbilical cord, such as compression or a cord wrapped around a baby's neck, can decrease blood flow to the brain. Over time, this can easily lead to developmental problems as the fetus and their brain cannot grow properly, causing permanent damage. Failure of medical staff to properly identify and address issues in utero can put the quality of life of the fetus at a serious risk of birth injury.
Common medical errors that can lead to the damage caused by birth asphyxia include:
- Failure to diagnose a condition of the mother, such as preeclampsia (high blood pressure and fluid retention during pregnancy)
- Anesthesia mistakes
- Overmedication of the mother-drugs like Pictocin (Oxytocin) that are used to speed up the labor process can cause contractions that put pressure on the umbilical cord.
- Shoulder Dystocia
- Delayed C-Section
- Delayed diagnosis or action to address fetal distress
Blood and oxygen flow to the brain suffering pressure (especially from constant forced contractions due to stimulated labor through medication) not only put a strain on the fetus, but the mother as well. More physical injuries such as shoulder dystocia can also have dire consequences. This injury occurs after the fetus "crowns" with its head emerging first as in a normal birth. If there is trouble, a doctor may use suction or their hands to help remove the fetus from the birth canal. This pressure can easily injure the shoulders, spine, and nerves. Brachial plexus injuries such as Erb's palsy (a type of temporary paralysis), nerve damage that affects the spine and birth asphyxia are all possible outcomes of this injury. Physical, developmental, and behavioral issues can arise as consequences.
The price the victim pays
The consequences of a brain injury sustained during birth due to malpractice can be severe. It can result in behavioral issues, cerebral palsy, Erb's palsy (both of which impair the body and brain) and spinal injuries. Though these incidents are not intentional, they are still errors that a medical professional should take care to avoid. When a patient is in labor, careful monitoring of the mother and the fetus should be maintained, and immediate action should be taken to address any distress or apparent issues that could affect the oxygen levels of the fetus. If you or anyone you know has been the victim of malpractice resulting in a birth injury, contact us today. Don't wait to take action.