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Oxygen Deprivation and Birth Injuries

Birth InjuryNo mother ever wants to contemplate the possibility of birth injuries affecting their child. However, they are surprisingly common in this country, and a significant portion of them are preventable. Most birth injuries to the newborn are sustained, at least in part, due to hypoxia (more commonly known as oxygen deprivation), and while some simply happen, many of them can be avoided with proper attention on the part of the attending medical staff. If you are due to have a baby soon, or if you have recently given birth, it is a good idea to be familiar with the potential conditions that can occur with oxygen deprivation.

Anoxia and Hypoxia

The two levels of oxygen deprivation most often seen in birth injury cases are anoxia and hypoxia, which refer to a total lack of oxygen and low oxygen levels respectively. More specifically, these terms both are used in reference to the levels of oxygen reaching relevant organs, the brain most of all. Cerebral anoxia or hypoxia can cause significant brain damage if allowed to persist, as well as conditions like cerebral palsy and vision issues. It is possible that lack of oxygen may also be linked to autism, but no study has yet confirmed this.

Most often, oxygen deprivation occurs when the umbilical cord gets stuck under the baby or otherwise pinched off somehow before the child is born. However, what most individuals often do not realize is that the brain itself is not the only organ that may be affected by a lack of oxygen. In other words, while a lack of oxygen to the brain may occur, the results may be seen elsewhere in the body. Hypoxia in particular commonly results in lung damage in newborns, because the lungs do not receive enough oxygen immediately after birth, so the lungs contract in size. This can lead to asthma or other lifelong breathing difficulties.

Bringing Suit

If you suspect that your baby has sustained a birth injury, you may be able to bring suit on their behalf. There are multiple conditions that can cause a pinching off of the umbilical cord, leading to oxygen deprivation. Most of them are able to be caught by an experienced physician, though not always. Some of these include shoulder dystocia, when a newborn’s shoulders become stuck or lodged in the mother’s birth canal, and umbilical cord prolapse, where the cord drops out of the birth canal before the baby. It is not uncommon for babies to be born with the umbilical cord around their neck, referred to as a nuchal cord, but this is only an issue if it becomes taut - an outcome any experienced physician will anticipate and avoid.

Regardless of the condition, there are four parts to medical malpractice in California that must be shown before a physician or other medical professional can be found liable. A doctor’s duty to his or her patients is established by law in California, but there must be a showing that that duty was breached by the doctor’s conduct. The patient must also be able to show that they sustained a measurable injury - that is, something more serious than cuts and bruises, but it need not be physical. For example, a mother could allege emotional trauma watching her child be born with a brain injury, or the suit could be brought on the child’s behalf. If these conditions can be met, the doctor may be found liable for malpractice.

Contact an Experienced Medical Malpractice Attorney

For most mothers, an injured child is a nightmare. It may be possible to redress the wrong. The established San Jose birth injury attorneys at Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard, L.L.P. understand what a difficult time this can be for any family, and we are happy to offer help and advice to get your family through. Call us today at (408) 289-1417 or use our web form to set up a consultation to discuss your case. We serve San Jose, the Bay Area, and the counties of San Benito, Santa Clara, San Mateo, Alameda, and Monterey.

Client Reviews
My experience with Attorney Brad Corsiglia during my recent medical malpractice case was nothing short of amazing given the very stressful circumstances. I was fortunate to find Brad highly recommended from a mutual contact and from the very beginning of the process, Brad was truly engaged and knowledgeable in understanding my case and providing input on what avenues were available to me. Michelle M.