Hypoxia in premature infants occurs when your newborn suffers from lack of oxygen. According to the American Psychological Association, signs of reduced blood oxygen levels soon after birth can be especially dangerous for preemies.
Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) is a condition that occurs when the newborn brain is deprived of oxygen and blood flow. Hypoxia in premature infants may result in HIE and cause a permanent and disabling birth injury.
Often times, a doctor makes a mistake that contributes to hypoxia and HIE. A lawyer can help determine if medical error was a culprit of the birth injury. The following health issues and medical mistakes can result in HIE.
A birth injury law firm can request and review medical records and help find out what caused a premature baby’s HIE. These injuries are often severe and sometimes permanent. A physician who does not act to prevent these injuries may be held responsible.
High-risk pregnancy mismanagement
Expectant mothers with health conditions such as high blood pressure or pregnancy-related diabetes require extra monitoring to prevent a premature birth. Hypoxia and HIE often stem from a doctor failing to identify and monitor a high-risk pregnancy.
Failure to properly monitor fetal heart rate:
Physicians use equipment known as a fetal heart rate monitor to watch the baby’s heart rate. Premature babies who show signs of distress often need the doctor to quickly respond to the situation and restore the oxygen supply. This often means that the doctor must perform an emergency C-section to improve blood flow and oxygen to the baby. Failure to monitor the baby’s heart rate or act when a baby is in distress can result in HIE.
Failure to stop a premature birth:
Babies who are premature have lungs that are not fully developed. This puts them at higher risk of HIE. Physicians must take act reasonably to delay delivery of an infant who is too premature. Physicians often rely on treatment with progesterone or using a cervical stitch to prevent premature birth.
Failure to manage a preemie’s health conditions: Hypoxia in premature infants can plague a preemie after birth. A preemie is at risk for breathing problems due to lungs that aren’t fully developed. A doctor should closely monitor for respiratory symptoms, including respiratory distress syndrome. If the baby’s oxygen level drops and is not addressed, the baby could sustain HIE.
Hypoxia in premature infants that causes HIE requires immediate action. Fast treatment with hypothermia therapy can sometimes prevent or minimize brain damage. Unfortunately, HIE can develop regardless of treatment.
HIE affects premature infants in varied ways. Common conditions following HIE include:
Many children with HIE suffer with several of these issues. It’s hard to know the impact that a HIE injury at birth will have on the child later in life. Developmental delays can take years to show. These delays become more apparent when the child gets older and does not keep up with their peers in activities such as walking, talking, or reading.
A birth injury law firm can provide help to parents coping with hypoxia in premature infants that results in HIE. Medical expenses to care for a child with HIE can be extreme. The costs start during the initial hospital stay and can continue for many years to come. When the injury is caused by medical error, a lawyer can seek compensation for these expenses. Contact our birth injury law firm today to speak to an attorney and find out more about starting a claim.
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