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Assessing the Dangers of Undiagnosed or Untreated Hypoxia in Newborns

Diagnosis HypoxiaThe medical condition known as hypoxia is often associated with those experiencing the effects of extreme altitudes, such as air travelers or deep sea divers exploring the ocean depths. Medically, hypoxia is defined as a lack of oxygen to the bodily tissue due to a lowered level of inhaled air. Unfortunately, it may also be a complication seriously affecting newborns as well.

Analyzing Risk Factors

Although the medical staff is usually on high alert for the symptoms or possible cases of hypoxia, the condition may arise moments during or immediately following the birth. Since hypoxia is extremely dangerous—due to the lack of oxygen to the baby’s brain—an assessment of the associated risk factors should be explored prior to the birth and steps taken to prevent such cases should be discussed before the actual birth. The medical team should fully disclose any issues in relation to hypoxia in order to prevent serious and lifelong injuries to the newborn and to deter any possibility of a medical malpractice suit.

Possible Complications

In the event that a child is facing complications that could lead to hypoxia, the medical team watches attentively to ensure that the umbilical cord is not wrapped around the newborn’s neck. If this is the case, the team will physically try to adjust the cord to prevent the onset of hypoxia. Another preventive option is to keep the child’s airway free of meconium, which is the contents of the digestive tract often released into the amniotic fluid and then inhaled by the child. Another method of warding off possible complications is to continuously monitor the fetal heartbeat. Any unfavorable deviation from a healthy heart rate can signal the need for an emergency Cesarean section.

Quick Response Needed

If hypoxia is suspected, the medical team should continually assess the newborn for typical responses, normal behavior traits or overall physical condition. If hypoxia is evident through abnormal flesh tones or behavioral issues, the protocol is to administer and restore a normal flow of oxygen to the child’s brain to avoid further or irreversible damage. This response is contingent on additional blood tests, ultrasounds, blood pressure, x-rays and monitoring of the heartbeat.

When a newborn is diagnosed with hypoxia, the outlook, if treated quickly, can alleviate any long-term brain issues and the child can be expected to make a full recovery. It is only when left undiagnosed and untreated can hypoxia cause lifelong complications such as cerebral palsy, learning disabilities, mental retardation and even death.

Contact an Attorney

If you believe your child suffered from complications from undiagnosed or untreated hypoxia, the experienced San Jose medical malpractice attorneys of Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard, L.L.P. offer a no-cost consultation. Contact our offices today at (408) 289-1417 to learn more about your legal options.

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