Oxygen deprivation at birth claims
Learn more about making a compensation claim for oxygen deprivation at birth. For more information about personal injury claims, see our full Resource Library
Not to put too fine a point on it, but being deprived of oxygen at birth is always going to have potentially dire consequences, irrespective of just how long the supply is compromised for.
Oxygen deprivation (or hypoxia, to afford it the correct clinical terminology) at birth pertains to a scenario whereby a baby’s brain is exposed to a reduced supply of oxygen; which as you can doubtless understand can lead to some degree of brain damage occurring.
The consequences vary depending on how much the oxygen supply was diminished and for what passage of time it was reduced; the possible upshot being that any infant experiencing this tragic event will more than likely be left with severe learning and/or physical disabilities as the direct legacy. Subsequently this would realistically mean that the affected baby would almost certainly require constant care throughout their lives.
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What causes oxygen deprivation at birth?
Unfortunately there are a number of factors which can cause (or actively contribute to) oxygen deprivation either during the pregnancy cycle, the course of the delivery itself or in the postnatal period. Below we seek to highlight the predominant influences which could result in such devastating scenarios playing out;
Problems encountered during pregnancy – Preeclampsia, maternal diabetes (where vascular disease is also present), foetal infections, cardiac disease and problems with blood flow to the placenta
Problems encountered during labour – Blockage of the placenta, the placenta becoming twisted (or trapped) during birth, heavy bleeding from the placenta, very low blood pressure in the mother, the baby being in an abnormal position during birth
Problems encountered during post-natal period – Severe low blood pressure in the baby, brain or skull trauma
Admittedly some of the abovementioned problems are essentially above and beyond the control of healthcare professionals, yet having said that there may be times when risk factors can (and indeed, should) be identified and acted on by those responsible for ensuring the health and wellbeing of expectant mothers and their unborn/new-born babies. Especially so at pivotal junctures in the pregnancy term, where routine tests such as scans and examinations are performed.
Should medical negligence on the part of clinical employees be found to have been the underlying cause of oxygen deprivation in these situations (and therein be established as in some way preventable), then victims are within their rights to justifiably pursue a personal injury claim against the individuals deemed culpable and/or the health authorities who carried out the tests/monitored the pregnancy, on the legal grounds of medical negligence.
Whilst it’s not always possible to prevent the deprivation of oxygen supplies during a birth, signs and potential risk factors should be recognised if and when they arise by those tasked with providing a duty of care to a patient.
Although there are various, accepted circumstances (and complications) that can present out of the blue during pregnancy/labour which are difficult or impossible to foresee, it’s imperative that GPs, midwives, gynaecologists and obstetricians conduct regular tests throughout an expectant mother’s pregnancy to ensure that any risks are kept to an absolute minimum; and should they identify anything untoward – and more pertinently, which might make oxygen deprivation more likely to occur – react with the urgency required then and there.
Effectively it’s crucial that they observe ALL necessary procedures during labour to all but guarantee a safe delivery when the time comes. From a patient/family’s perspective it’s obviously difficult to ascertain whether or not a deprivation of oxygen at birth/in the lead up to/immediately thereafter could have been guarded against, chiefly because most people lack the medical background/training to establish such specialist facts. Not least due to the ‘layperson’ being unaware of which tests, precautions and procedures are standard and should be carried out as a matter of course.
The bottom line being lacking the insider information to establish one way or another if any blame could be apportioned to those responsible, in terms of clinical negligence. Which is why it’s hugely important to consult with a personal injury claims solicitor if in any doubt, who through the process they’d adopt in this instance, would approach an impartial medical expert if a claim was instigated.
What are the potential consequences of being deprived of oxygen at birth?
Oxygen deprivation at birth would more than likely result in the presentation of long term learning difficulties and physical disabilities. The former would probably manifest in the shape and form of a reduced short term memory, while the latter would be characterized by an obvious diminished mobility and motor control in the victim.
Furthermore, a baby’s brain being starved of critical oxygen supplies (however fleetingly) during labour has been intrinsically linked to diagnoses of cerebral palsy, autism and other severe and profound learning difficulties; any of which materialising would almost certainly mean that the infant would need a range of specialist care throughout its lifetime, depending on how much brain damage occurred and which parts of the brain were affected.
How to make a claim for oxygen deprivation at birth?
If your baby suffered from oxygen deprivation at birth and moreover, you believe there is a chance it may have been the result of preventable medical negligence, it’s advisable to speak to a solicitor as soon as possible:
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