Belsky Weinberg & Horowitz, LLC A Personal Injury & Workers’ Compensation Law Firm

Low oxygen levels may be dangerous in perinatal period

As Maryland parents likely know, the amount of oxygen a baby receives before and during the birthing process and after birth is important. Low levels of oxygen might cause significant difficulties for the baby and result in multi-organ problems. There are ways to recognize perinatal asphyxia as birth progresses and increase oxygen saturation to both the mother and the child.

Low oxygen levels, or hypoxia, may cause acidosis. This lowers the pH level in the baby's body. The initial symptoms may be insidious and not recognized. There are ways to identify hypoxia with careful monitoring and suspicion of low oxygen in some mothers.

Initial symptoms are an abnormal fetal heart rate and increased acidosis in the body fluids determined by a low pH level. The baby's color and muscle tone may be poor, and the newborn may have weak respirations and gasping. The baby may also have meconium, or early feces, in the amniotic fluid prior to birth causing further respiratory compromise. Once the baby is born, the levels of acid may be high, and the newborn's Apgar score, a measure of the baby's progress, may be low. In addition, the baby may have trouble with digestive, respiratory and circulatory systems. Once recognized, treatment may focus on oxygen delivery after birth, mechanical respiration or deviation from natural birth, necessitating a C-section delivery. Using monitoring for low oxygen and pH level is also important.

If proper precaution and monitoring are not taken, health care professionals may be held accountable for costly and life-threatening birth injuries to the baby. Parents of a child who has been injured as a result of a failure to detect this problem may want to discuss their options with a medical malpractice attorney.

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