There are two main types of injuries that can occur during the birth/delivery process: 1) injury from a lack of oxygen to the brain and, 2) injury from trauma. Lack of oxygen to the brain, known as hypoxia, anoxia or asphyxia, can cause life-long and profound disability, depending on the area of the brain affected. Other considerations include the amount and length of oxygen deprivation. The process of birth often causes a small reduction in oxygen supply to the brain and many babies are born with some evidence of asphyxia at birth, which is called birth depression. Because of the reserve supply of oxygen and blood that is provided to the baby in the uterus through the placenta, most babies who are born with some depression at birth or hypoxia can be quickly and easily treated with some stimulation after birth. These babies rarely, if ever, suffer any significant injury to their brain.
There are several conditions which can cause more significant brain injuries related to hypoxia, anoxia or asphyxia at birth. They include:
- Compression of the umbilical cord during labor and/or delivery
- Prolapse of the umbilical cord during delivery
- Separation of the placenta before delivery of the baby
- Rupture of the uterus
All of these conditions can present an obstetrical emergency which can require the baby to be delivered quickly, usually by emergency cesarean section. While most hospitals can perform a cesarean section with 30 minutes of decision by the OB/GYN, these obstetric emergencies often require a delivery within 15-20 minutes or less to prevent significant brain injury to the baby.
While the incidence of these obstetric emergencies is considered rare (less than 5% of deliveries), if such problems occur, the impact can be devastating, lasting a lifetime.
If your child has suffered birth injury or trauma due to any of these circumstances, please contact our office to determine if you have a case for medical malpractice.