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Hypoxia in infants

What is hypoxia in infants?

Hypoxia in infants can result in a birth injury that has permanent effects on the child. Hypoxia occurs when the baby does not receive enough oxygen to its brain before, during, or after delivery. This condition can lead to a brain injury and sometimes a lasting disorder such as cerebral palsy, cognitive deficits, or hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). While most babies born with mild hypoxia may recover, moderate or severe hypoxia in infants increases the risk of a life-long disability.

Causes of hypoxia

Hypoxia in infants can occur at anytime before, during, or after delivery. Risk factors include:

Maternal risk factors that increase the risk of hypoxia in infants include preeclampsia, maternal obesity, gestational diabetes, and infections. Women who have a higher risk pregnancy should take care to monitor their health, attend all prenatal appointments, and communicate with their doctors regularly if they show signs or symptoms of complications.  


When hypoxia in infants is identified, the first step in treatment is to resuscitate the baby and stabilize the flow of oxygen they receive. If HIE is suspected, additional treatment may include therapeutic hypothermia. There is compelling evidence that hypothermia is most effective when it is started as early as possible after HIE.



HIE is a very serious type of brain injury and is one of the leading causes of infant mortality. Nearly 20% of infants diagnosed with HIE will die within the first week. This is a devastating blow to families who have anticipated bringing their baby home.


Of the babies who survive HIE, nearly 1 out of 4 will have some level of permanent brain damage. The brain injuries that result from HIE can cause both physical and cognitive disabilities. In these cases, treatment can may include multiple therapies and may extend for years. The costs for these therapies and supportive care are often quite high and difficult for families to bear. A birth injury lawyer can help families seek compensation for birth injuries resulting from hypoxia in infants.

Physical Therapy

Strength Training - Flexibility Exercises - Training for Balance and Coordination

Occupational Therapy

May include teaching child to perform toilet hygiene or eat independently

Speech Therapy

Help for a child struggling to talk or learn vocabulary


May help with symptoms of brain damage, such as seizure medications or ADHD medications

Legal remedies for medical malpractice

Hypoxia in infants that results in a HIE with permanent injury may due to medical negligence. Doctors and other medical professionals must follow standards of care to ensure that an infant in distress is identified and expediently treated. If a doctor fails to adhere to these standards and the infants suffers an injury, the doctor could be held liable for malpractice. The malpractice claim can provide compensation to the family for the harm caused by the doctor. A birth injury lawyer can seek payments to help the child and their family with medical expenses caused by the injury.

Our attorneys have extensive experience in birth injury cases. We give personal attention to each child and family we help. HIE birth injuries create astronomical medical expenses.  When this injury is due to physician error, our attorneys can seek payment for these expenses.  No family should have to suffer alone while dealing with a brain injury; our attorneys are here and can help. 

In 2006, it was estimated that over 157,000 birth injuries could have been avoided to both mother and infant.

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