Can birth asphyxia brain injury be treated?

Any type of physician error or nursing negligence can have harrowing effects on a Houston hospital patient. During labor and delivery, however, a doctor error can affect a baby's life even before the child is born. In particular, brain injuries may be caused by a type of serious labor complication known as birth asphyxia. Fortunately, some treatments are available, although each case is unique and the condition can still result in severe injuries or, in some cases, premature death of a newborn.

When birth asphyxia occurs during delivery, it is because something has caused the baby's brain to not receive enough oxygen. Since the cells in the human body can't function without oxygen, insufficient oxygen can cause waste products to accumulate in the cells and, thus, damage the body. At times the damage is only temporary, but, in other instances, the damage may be permanent. There are many different causes of birth asphyxia; the list includes issues with the umbilical cord during birth, the placenta and uterus separating too soon and blockage of the baby's airway.

Can anything be done to help babies who have suffered birth asphyxia? Babies who have experienced only mild asphyxia can be offered breathing support until they can inhale and exhale on their own. Those who have suffered its more serious form may need the aid of a breathing machine or respiratory therapy, as well as medication to avoid seizures and stabilize blood pressure.

More advanced cases may benefit from a breathing tube which carries nitric oxide or the use of a high-frequency mechanical ventilation. Temporary life support can be offered through a special heart-lung pump in which a machine adds oxygen-rich blood into the baby's body. In addition, if started on time, a type of hypothermia treatment can cool the baby's internal body temperature to shield a baby from brain injury during asphyxia's second stage.

A brain injury to a newborn can be devastating, and the pain and suffering suffered by both the child and their family can prove enormous. Errors made during delivery or during treatment of birth asphyxia can be addressed via a medical malpractice suit in which the defendant is the negligent party or parties.

Source: Seattle Children's, "Birth Asphyxia Treatment," accessed May 10, 2015

Categories: Brain Injuries