Anoxic Brain Injury Can Leave a Child Permanently Disabled
Anoxic brain injuries are a form of a birth injury caused by an interruption in oxygen flow to the baby’s brain. The most severe forms of anoxia can lead to permanent damage or even death.
What is an Anoxic Brain Injury?
Of all the organs in the human body, the brain is by far the most complex. A newborn baby’s brain requires a steady and full supply of oxygen as its brain controls everything in the body. Where the baby is deprived of the full amount of oxygen needed even for a remarkably short period of time, permanent damage can be done through the death of brain cells.
Brain anoxia is a medical term used when the baby’s brain has been deprived of oxygen.
While the term hypoxia is used when the baby’s brain has reduced oxygen, anoxia is the term used when there is no oxygen flowing to the brain. An anoxic brain injury is when the cells in the brain are damaged due to total oxygen deprivation, which causes cells in the brain to die.
The nature and severity of an anoxic brain injury depend upon many factors, including how long the cells in the brain have been completely deprived of oxygen. Because dead brain cells cannot regenerate, anoxic brain injuries are among the most severe birth injuries. Anoxic brain issues can result in death, or permanent physical and mental disabilities.
What Causes an Anoxic Brain Injury?
Anoxia generally refers to anything that causes oxygen flow to the baby’s brain to cease. There are many causes of anoxic brain injuries, and many anoxic brain injuries involve the umbilical cord. Because an unborn baby gets its oxygen through the umbilical cord, where there is some type of trauma to the cord, this can cause anoxia. Some babies also sustain anoxic brain injuries where the mother’s own oxygen supply completely or partially stopped.
It is also possible for a baby to suffer an anoxic brain injury after delivery. Often as the result of an existing diagnosed or undiagnosed condition in the baby, very low oxygen saturation can occur. Where this is improperly monitored or missed entirely, the baby can endure a permanent injury through anoxia.
Anoxic Brain Injury and Childbirth
The birthing process presents innumerable obstacles to a baby about to enter the world – anoxia and hypoxia among them.
Anoxia is a common childbirth danger that takes many forms.
While there are many conditions that can arise in real-time in the delivery room, many of the causes of anoxic brain injuries are due to inadequate assessment of the mother’s medical condition and failure to recognize this and take proper precautions throughout the pregnancy and in delivery.
During pregnancy, mothers should always be screened for medical conditions that can reduce oxygen to their baby and potentially cause an anoxic brain injury. While there are many pregnancy complications and conditions that can prevent the baby’s brain from receiving the oxygen it needs for healthy development, some of the more common conditions include infections, prolapse, or twisting of the umbilical cord.
During delivery itself, some of the causes of anoxia in a newborn baby include:
- Uterine ruptures
- Torsion or uterine prolapse
- Placenta hemorrhage
- Excessively long labor
- Low blood pressure in the mother
- Breech birth
Types of Anoxic Brain Injuries
Anoxic brain injuries are categorized into one of several groups depending on what exactly caused the anoxia.
Medically known as a “hypoxic-ischemic injury,” stagnant anoxia occurs when something that has gone wrong in the baby’s body blocks the flow of blood and the oxygen it brings with it to the brain. The most frequent causes of stagnant anoxia are cardiovascular.
When the baby has no oxygen or very little oxygen available to breathe, this is referred to as anoxic anoxia.
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The role of the baby’s blood is to circulate oxygen to their critical organs, including their brain. This is done by the hemoglobin in the baby’s blood, but when the blood does not deliver the requisite oxygen, the condition is called anemic anemia.
Toxic anoxia is the introduction of oxygen-interrupting toxins into the baby’s body. These toxins interrupt the flow and circulation of oxygen to the baby’s brain. The most frequent cause of toxic anoxia is negligently-administered anesthesia during childbirth and the presence of carbon monoxide.
Prognosis for Children with Anoxic Brain Injuries
Anoxic brain injuries in a baby can result in death or permanent damage to the child’s brain and accompanying lifelong disability.
The exact scope and degree of an anoxic brain injury often depend upon how long a part of all of a baby’s brain was deprived of oxygen and what actions, if any, were taken by the medical team to intercede.
Some of the symptoms that children who have suffered an anoxic brain injury exhibit include seizures, sleep apnea, an inability to nurse or other nursing problems, and emotional and physical development issues.
Anoxic Brain Injury Due to Medical Negligence
Anoxic brain injury can be the result of medical malpractice on the part of doctors and other hospital staff.
Medical malpractice occurs when doctors or other medical professionals damage patients in their care, either through negligence or oversight.
Such errors can include:
- Misdiagnosis or delay in diagnosis
- Birth injuries resulting from negligent prenatal care or delivery
- Surgical error
- Anesthesia error
- Errors that cause respiratory and/or cardiac arrest
- Hospital error
- Emergency room error
- Medication error
Anoxic brain injury can result from any of these errors, among others.
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