Many babies born with asphyxia die. Those that live often face a lifetime of hardship due to their lifelong brain and other physical injuries. Birth asphyxia can cause hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), cerebral palsy (CP), and other disabilities.
What is birth asphyxia?
Birth asphyxia is the medical condition that results when an infant is deprived of oxygen and nutrients before, during or immediately after birth. In order to be diagnosed with birth asphyxia — also referred to as neonatal or perinatal asphyxia —the baby’s oxygen deprivation must have lasted long enough during the birth process to cause physical harm. Most birth asphyxia injuries fall under one of the following categories:
- Acute near total asphyxia. Also referred to as basal ganglia-thalamus pattern of injury, acute near total asphyxia is a brain injury that commonly results in severe cases of cerebral palsy.
- Partial, prolonged asphyxia. Partial, prolonged asphyxia often results in slow head growth, cognitive impairments, language delays, and behavior problems.
For a free legal consultation with a birth asphyxia lawyer serving Minneapolis, call 612-349-2729
What causes birth asphyxia?
In many cases, birth asphyxia is the result of medical malpractice. This is a heartbreaking realization for parents who rely on doctors, nurses and hospitals to provide a certain standard of care during prenatal care, labor and delivery. It can feel like the worst betrayal to realize the medical care providers you trusted acted negligently. While nobody can turn back time and prevent the birth injury from occurring, a Minnesota Birth Injury Attorney can help you find the resources to care for your child in the best way possible.
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How does birth asphyxia happen?
Birth asphyxia is often the result of medical malpractice that occurs either because the birth was not attended to properly or because the mother had a diagnosable condition that was not taken into account during birth. For instance, birth asphyxia may occur as a result of:
- Uterine rupture, where the uterus completely or partially tears
- Placental abruption, where the placenta separates from the uterus before the baby is born
- Umbilical cord prolapse, where the umbilical cord drops through the open cervix into the vagina ahead of the baby, becoming trapped against the baby’s body during delivery
- Failure to properly manage a high-risk pregnancy
- Infections during labor and delivery that were not properly diagnosed and treated
- Improper monitoring of fetal heartrate
- Failure to intervene during prolonged labor
- Inducing labor with dangerously strong uterine contractions
How is birth asphyxia diagnosed?
Each baby experiences symptoms of birth asphyxia differently. However, there are common symptoms that indicate that birth asphyxia is present. Some of these occur before delivery and others occur immediately following birth. Before delivery, a baby experiencing birth asphyxia may have:
- An abnormal heart rate or rhythm
- An increased level of acid in his or her blood
At the time of birth, symptoms of asphyxia can include:
- A bluish or unusually pale skin color
- A low heart rate
- Weakened muscle tone and slow or undetectable reflexes
- A very weak cry, gasping for breath, and/or weak breathing
- A pH level in the arterial blood of the umbilical cord that is less than 7.00
- A low Apgar score, usually zero to three, for longer than five minutes
- Signs of neurological problems, such as seizures, coma and poor muscle tone
- Low blood pressure or other signs of respiratory distress
- Circulatory or digestive system problems
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What can I expect as I raise a child with birth asphyxia?
How birth asphyxia will affect your child depends on a number of factors, including when the oxygen deprivation occurred and how long it lasted. If your baby experienced moderate to severe asphyxia that has resulted in brain damage and/or physical disabilities, you’ll probably need to make home, educational, social, and even occupational adjustments. Depending on the severity of your child’s disability and any co-morbidities they develop, you may face all kinds of physical and behavioral health issues, including:
- Learning disabilities
- Developmental delays
- Sensory processing issues
- Language disorders, including speech delays
- Hearing issues
- Vision issues
- Pain management issues
- Orthopedic issues
- Neurological disorders
- Emotional and behavioral issues
- Respiratory conditions
- Skin diseases and disorders
- Orthopedic issues and pain
What types of compensation could I receive?
Your child may need around-the-clock care for his or her entire lifetime. The resources that it will take to ensure proper care are going to be significant. Not only are you going to need to adjust everything in your life to accommodate your special needs child, you also are going to have to make sure that they will be taken care of in the event you are no longer able to care for them yourself. Some of the matters you may need substantial financial resources for include:
- Making your home safe and handicap accessible for your child both now and as he or she grows up
- Being able to transport your child to and from your home
- Acquiring all of the adaptive equipment your child will need now and in the future, including wheelchairs, and assessable beds, toilet seats and bathing adaptations
- Accessing all of the assistive technology your child will require
- Making sure your child has access to the proper special education resources
- Providing for a lifetime of medical care and medications
- Continuing physical, occupational, and/or behavioral therapy
In addition, you are entitled to recover for other losses, such as:
- Your lost wages as a result of having to care for your child or your child’s loss of earning capacity
- The pain and suffering and emotional distress this tragedy has caused you, your child, and your family
Under Minnesota law, damages for medical malpractice are unlimited. In other words, you are entitled to seek amounts to cover all of the costs that will be incurred for your child’s entire lifetime. In certain cases, you can also recover additional damages that, rather than being linked to the actual cost of care, are intended to punish those who caused the harm.
How can I be sure that I have a medical malpractice case?
The only way to understand the strength of your case and what your options are is to consult with an experienced Minnesota Medical Malpractice Attorney. We invite you to sit down with one of our experienced lawyers as soon as possible to undergo a thorough case review. There are legal time limits for bringing suit and a successful medical malpractice lawsuit depends on filing the case on time, as well as collecting, preserving, and properly presenting all the relevant evidence.
To learn more, please call our Minnesota Medical Birth Injury Lawyer today at 612.349.2729.