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Is hypoxia serious in the long term?

If you've been told that your child is suffering from hypoxia or could be at risk, you may be wondering what kind of risks it poses. Are the risks limited to the immediate danger of receiving inadequate oxygen, or it is more serious in the long term?

Hypoxia does pose a risk of serious, long-term injuries. For example, if it goes untreated, it's possible to suffer from a permanent disability. It can lead to brain injury and problems like cerebral palsy or hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy.

If your child only suffers a short bout of hypoxia, it's possible that recovery could occur. Most babies who go through mild hypoxia during or after birth did recover without permanent disabilities. However, the longer the hypoxia lasts, the more danger your child's in.

There are some risks your doctor should have spoken to you about that could lead to hypoxia. For example, if the umbilical cord is damaged, it could result in hypoxia. Placental abruptions can cause hypoxia, literally suffocating an unborn child. Oxygen deprivation is also a risk of hypoxia (and also is hypoxia itself.) Oxygen deprivation can occur if the mother can't breathe, if she passes away or if other issues happen during the pregnancy or delivery.

When your baby is at risk of hypoxia, your doctor should take immediate steps to make sure he or she doesn't suffer. If you need an emergency Cesarean, for instance, that should be performed as soon as possible to prevent hypoxia due to a difficult birth. If your baby is struggling to breathe following birth, then oxygen or other treatments should be given to prevent hypoxia as well. If your doctor ignores the signs of your child needing help, that's when you may want to consider contacting your attorney about a medical malpractice claim.

Source: FindLaw, "Birth Injury: Hypoxia," accessed Dec. 15, 2015

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