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What is Hypoxia and Anoxia?

Consider this scenario. Shortly after a baby is born, it is rushed to a neonatal intensive care unit, and doctor informs the mother that the baby has suffered hypoxia, which may result in brain injury. Hypoxia means a lack or decreased amount of oxygen. When this occurs the real question is, how long did this condition exist? Depending upon how long the baby went with the decreased amount of oxygen, there are chances of the baby suffering permanent brain injuries.

If the doctor has used the term anoxia, then it means total lack of oxygen. In this condition too, one should ask the question, how long did the baby go with total lack of oxygen? Many times the doctor may not be able to answer this question, but it is important to ask it anyway. This is because there are certain obstetrical conditions and emergencies that can cause Anoxia.

For instance, when the placenta separates from the uterus, there is no longer any communication between the mother and the baby in the uterus. Now the baby will not be getting any fresh blood supply, and because of that, there is no oxygen reaching the baby. If this condition goes on for a period, without being recognized, it is possible for the baby to suffer significant brain injury, as a direct result of not getting any oxygen, which is called Anoxia.

When you hear the term Hypoxia, it means the baby has received a decrease amount of oxygen. This could be due to a compression of the cord or some other key reason. Now the important question is how long did this condition last, and did the doctors know and recognize this condition in a timely manner.

Is it a Case of Medical Malpractice?

Since Anoxia or Hypoxia means interruption of adequate oxygen to the brain, the consequences could be devastating in an unborn child, depending on the severity of the interruption. Anoxia and Hypoxia can be caused by different conditions. It could be due to the mother suffering from low blood pressure or some infection.

Anoxia and Hypoxia can also occur during the labor process due to problems with the umbilical cord, birth injuries, or some other complication. Giving wrong medication to the mother during or before labor could also cause hypoxia, and many times, it is due to failure to identify the potential dangers properly to the baby during labor.

Ascertaining the Truth

Therefore, it is important to investigate what exactly caused Anoxia or Hypoxia in the baby, how long the baby was left without oxygen, and when did the doctors notice that the baby was not receiving sufficient oxygen. While carrying out investigation to find answer to these questions, sufficient information will be revealed, to know whether there was violation of basic standards of medical care during labor. If the doctors had given the wrong medication to the mother or they had failed to detect Anoxia or Hypoxia in the baby for a long time, then they can be held liable for negligence.

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