Birth asphyxia is a problem that can occur during birth, while the child is in the womb or when the child is being delivered. Basically speaking, it means the baby is not getting enough oxygen to his or her brain and other vital organs.
When this happens before, during or after birth, it’s possible that the child can suffer temporary or permanent damage to his or her organs. Acids build up in the cells when there is not enough oxygen, and this can be damaging even after oxygen levels are restored.
Birth asphyxiation happens in about four out of every 1,000 cases involving full-term births. When babies are born premature, then it’s more common. The common causes for birth asphyxia include too little oxygen in the mother’s blood during or before birth, problems with the placenta, trouble with the umbilical cord during delivery, serious infections, high or low blood pressure in the mother, a blocked airway or anemia.
There are two stages of birth asphyxia. The first takes place when oxygen is removed. Cell damage begins to take place due to a lack of oxygen and blood flow to the body. This is a severe problem that can be corrected, but the second stage can still cause more damage. During the second stage, damage known as a reperfusion injury takes place. These injuries are a direct result of reintroducing oxygen to the body.
The second stage of damage can last for weeks. As the toxins that built up in the body are released from the damaged cells, the body suffers damage that can lead to developmental disabilities, impaired sight and other conditions.
If this happens to your child, you do have options. Our website has more information on what to do when asphyxia affects your life.