What Is Perinatal Asphyxia?

“Perinatal” means shortly after birth, and “asphyxia” means oxygen deprivation; at its simplest, perinatal asphyxia is post-birth oxygen deprivation for sufficient time to cause injury. The first signs of perinatal asphyxia are silence and/or muscle limpness in newborns. If a baby is born not crying and flailing but quiet and still, medical staff will immediately begin trying to get the child to breathe. and it can have a number of ill effects on a newborn. One of the common injuries that you see is a brain injury— with the loss of oxygen to the brain which, in a newborn child at that developmental stage so early in their life, can cause lasting effects. There can be severe developmental issues throughout their life. If a newborn is deprived of oxygen for close to five minutes, the risk of brain damage, including intellectual disability, cerebral palsy, and other problems such as seizures increases dramatically.

Now, a family isn’t prepared for something like this. There’s no way to prepare yourself for something so unexpected. A lot of times, parents want to blame themselves. The sad thing is it’s no parents fault, but they feel that because they want the best for their child. On the flip side, parents can feel incredibly powerless. They’ve done everything in their ability to take care of their child, and when something outside of their ability hurts their baby, it’s hard to cope with. But while this kind of thing isn’t in the control or abilities of the parents, it is in the doctor’s control. Parents have entrusted their doctors and it’s hard for them sometimes to think that the doctor, the one they entrusted, the one they hand-selected made a mistake. The birth of a child can be a messy, chaotic situation, which makes determining exactly what happened at the moment very difficult. There are also a number of people involved, between the parents, the doctor, the nurses, and any other support staff that might be present.

At our firm, when someone is dealing with the effects of an injury from lack of oxygen in their newborn, we try to find out what went wrong. We have to see what steps were taken by the OB-GYN during the labor process and what decisions they made. We know the appropriate people to consult, people who know the appropriate things to look for to really investigate this. If we can prove that your doctor made choices that were not in your child’s best interest and which resulted in their injury, we can begin trying to make that right by holding them responsible for the consequences of those choices. If the doctor did everything they were supposed to do, we can expand our research to focus on other factors. And it’s not always someone’s fault. The best we can do is find out the truth of what happened. At least we will know something went wrong and it’s the result of the doctor or it wasn’t. That can allow the family to face the situation, heal, and have them the closure they need to move forward. If you’ve found yourself in a painful circumstance in which your child was injured, give us a call, and we can find the truth.