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How hypoxia can evolve into a permanent disability for infants

During the course of its delivery, a baby may not receive the necessary oxygen it needs for its brain to continue functioning optimally. This puts the child at an increased risk for a number of long-term problems or permanent disabilities, including cognitive disorders and cerebral palsy.

While in most cases hypoxia is treatable, if left untreated, injures are almost assuredly going to be permanent.

Hypoxia can occur either before, during or after a baby's delivery. Among the most common precursors to this serious obstetric emergency are:

-- Injuries to, or detachment of, the umbilical cord

-- Improper growth of the placenta

-- Placenta detached from the uterus

-- Infection

-- Cardiovascular disease or collapse

-- Shoulder dystocia

-- Abnormality of the brain's blood vessels

In cases where hypoxia is suspected, doctors or medical staff quickly resuscitating the infant to bring his or her oxygen levels into range is critical. This should be followed by hydration and regulating the temperature and ventilation.

One popular treatment aimed at reducing the risk of permanent brain damage involves wrapping the infant in a plastic blanket infused with cool water. This has been shown to greatly reduce brain swelling when used over the course of three days.

In contrast, if not treated as proactively as it should be, a permanent brain injury may require a child to not only be on medication for the rest of his or her life, but to require extensive (and expensive) therapies as well.

Obstetricians must be prepared to identify any potential signs of medical distress and render any available care that any reasonable physician would administer if faced with same set of circumstances. Parents of children who fail to receive that basic standard of care may be eligible to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against their child's doctor for negligence.

Source: FindLaw, "Birth Injury: Hypoxia," accessed May 05, 2017

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