Oxygen Deprivation at Birth: Seeking Justice

baby in the hospital in PA after suffering oxygen deprivation and in need of birth injury attorney

The moments after birth should be joyful as you welcome your new baby. But when complications occur, these hopes can turn to uncertainty and fear. 

One such complication, oxygen deprivation or hypoxia, can have significant impacts on a child’s health and future. As a family facing these challenges, arming yourself with knowledge is essential to getting your child the care they need and determining if negligence was involved.

This family guide aims to help you understand the causes and effects of oxygen deprivation and the available resources in Philadelphia. We’ll provide an overview of your legal options if negligence occurred and how a birth injury attorney can help, written with the compassion these sensitive cases require. Let’s begin by first getting to know more about this condition.  

Raynes & Lawn Trial Lawyers has decades of experience guiding clients through birth injury cases. Our talented and dedicated attorneys can give you personalized and strategic attention. Call our offices today at 1-800-535-1797 for your free consultation. 

Defining Hypoxia: What Happens When a Baby Is Oxygen Deprived?

Hypoxia occurs when an infant’s brain and organs do not receive adequate oxygen during or around the time of birth. This lack of oxygen prevents the baby’s cells, tissues, and vital systems from receiving the necessary nourishment as the baby transitions from life inside the womb. 

Without enough oxygen circulation, cell damage and injury can rapidly occur in the brain and extend to nearly every system in the newborn’s body. The duration of oxygen loss, along with how quickly treatment is administered, dramatically impacts the severity of damage.

What Causes Oxygen Deprivation During Birth?  

The birthing process involves the intricate coordination of multiple maternal, fetal, and provider factors. Disruptions to this delicate process can restrict oxygen flow to the baby for various reasons, including:

  • Prolonged, intense contractions or obstructions during labor 

  • Placental complications like placental abruption, where the placenta detaches  

  • Umbilical cord issues like compressed cords or prolapse situations

  • Maternal health factors like high blood pressure or clotting disorders  

  • Fetal infections that create inflammation  

Quick decisions and timely medical interventions are often needed to restore oxygen. When this resuscitation does not occur or is delayed, hypoxia and devastating injury can follow.

Recognizing the Early Signs of Oxygen Loss

Clinical providers closely evaluate key indicators in the initial minutes after birth to determine if adequate oxygenation occurred. Subtle signs are easy to miss, which is why it’s crucial you know what to look for and ask questions if anything seems off with your baby, such as:

  • Low heart rate or breathing trouble

  • Poor muscle tone, weakness, seizures 

  • Any need for aggressive resuscitation  

  • Low Apgar scores assessing physical health (normal is 8-9)

  • Continued difficulty breathing, moving, or feeding in the hours/days after birth

Transparency from medical staff is vital. If your parental instinct tells you something is wrong, prompt follow-up and review of medical records with independent specialists may be warranted.

The Lasting Effects of Oxygen Deprivation  

For newborns affected by even brief oxygen loss, hypoxia can set off a destructive biochemical process in vulnerable brain tissues. This kickstarts a cascade of inflammation and cell death over hours, days, and weeks after the initial injury. 

In severe cases, permanent brain damage may occur, resulting in the following:

  • Forms of cerebral palsy impacting movement  and coordination

  • Global developmental delays as children miss milestones  

  • Intellectual disabilities with learning difficulties throughout school years

  • Vision, hearing, and speech impairments    

  • Epilepsy and seizure disorders

  • Behavioral, socialization, and attention deficits  

Even in milder cases, residual issues related to regulatory functions, sensory processing, and higher cognition can emerge over time. Ongoing specialty care is often needed to support children affected by hypoxia injuries.

Navigating Life After a Birth Injury Diagnosis

Caring for a child affected by oxygen deprivation demands extensive emotional, financial, and practical support. As the realities of this diagnosis become clear: 

  • Know you are not alone. Seek out social support groups connecting with other families facing hypoxia disorders, such as the Little Baby Face Foundation and the Brain Injury Association of America. Identify wounded healers — doctors, therapists, and survivors — whose insights can empower.

  • Build your child’s care team. Hypoxia requires input from diverse specialties like neurology, pulmonology, orthopedics, speech/feeding therapy, occupational therapy, and mental health support. Care coordination is demanding, so utilize social workers and case managers to help create a comprehensive treatment plan. 

  • Focus on bringing joy. While addressing disabilities is crucial, make time for family fun and give your child every rich childhood experience possible. Advocate for inclusion programs starting early on. Cultivate your child’s strengths and passions.  

  • Consider adding a service animal. Companion animals boost social-emotional health and can help with mobility, anxiety, focus, and sensory regulation.  

  • Connect with your community. Familiar faces build confidence during challenging therapies. Seek inclusive sports teams, youth clubs, and recreational outlets facilitating supportive peer interactions.

And remember, it is not a linear journey. Patience during regression is paramount, so pace yourself and cling to big and small wins.

Could Medical Negligence Have Caused My Baby’s Hypoxia Injury?

Key Questions to Ask

The chaotic aftermath of a birth injury leaves little time for asking questions about what went wrong or if errors occurred. But piecing together an accurate sequence of events matters immensely when determining if negligence was involved. 

Here are proactive questions for families to bring up:

  • Were there any signs of fetal distress detected during prenatal care or the onset of labor? 

  • Did the fetal heart rate monitoring strip show concerning changes that signaled intervention was needed?

  • Were there abnormalities like cord compression evident on ultrasound during delivery?  

  • What resuscitative measures were performed right after birth if my baby showed continued signs of distress? Were there delays?

  • Could the healthcare team’s failure to recognize risks and take appropriate action have contributed? 

Document every detail to help reconstruct the circumstances surrounding the oxygen loss. Consult your delivery medical records with the guidance of specialists. While human errors do happen, that does not absolve providers of their duty to meet reasonable standards of obstetric care, which may not have occurred. Just know credible professionals can determine if malpractice played a role.

How Pennsylvania Birth Injury Laws Can Help

In Pennsylvania, the law aims to protect patients, including mothers and newborns, against preventable medical harm. When negligence occurs during labor and delivery, resulting in devastating injury, affected families may have legal grounds to pursue a malpractice claim seeking justice and compensation. 

To successfully bring a birth injury case related to oxygen deprivation, key elements must be proven, such as:

  • A healthcare provider owed your baby a duty of care, which was then breached because reasonable standards of medical care were not met. This failure directly resulted in your baby’s brain or bodily injuries.

  • Demonstrating how specific negligent actions (or lack thereof) caused harm often requires extensive medical record analysis plus testimony by obstetric experts.

  • Your child’s current need for intensive medical care and lifelong disabilities have now created significant financial costs and emotional damages.

When investigating your oxygen deprivation case initially, it is wise to consult with a medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible once negligence is suspected. An experienced birth injury lawyer can help assess how strong your claim may be under Pennsylvania law and better determine if pursuing a case is in your child’s best interests.

Why Choose Raynes & Lawn Trial Lawyers to Advocate for Your Family

Fighting for those harmed by medical negligence is paramount for Raynes & Lawn Trial Lawyers. Our award-winning attorneys have over 50 years of bringing justice to children and mothers devastated by birth injuries across Pennsylvania.  

We will: 

  • Conduct a detailed investigation into the circumstances of your delivery and events leading to your baby’s oxygen deprivation using independent medical professionals.

  • Obtain and comprehensively review all medical records related to your prenatal care, labor & delivery, and baby’s subsequent treatment.

  • Utilize evidence-based insight from child neurologists, pediatric specialists, and ob/gyn experts to determine if proper protocols were followed.

  • Allocate significant resources to prosecuting medical negligence to achieve justice for your child.

  • Handle all legal matters so you can focus entirely on caring for your baby’s ongoing medical needs.

  • Provide compassionate support for your family every step of the way during this profoundly difficult time.

What Financial Protections Exist for Birth Injury Victims?

Securing coverage for the enormous costs of oxygen deprivation injuries is complex yet vital. Various options exist under Pennsylvania law, including:  

  • Compensation Funds: Covers basic needs if providers lack sufficient insurance 

  • Medical Malpractice Lawsuits: Can recover damages from liable defendants

  • Health Insurance Mandates: Requires policies to cover certain care costs

  • Medicaid & Social Security: Essential safety net programs

Again, an oxygen deprivation attorney well-versed in birth trauma cases serves as an invaluable guide to help your family access and coordinate coverage so your baby receives optimal treatment while saving costs.

Frequently Asked Legal Questions

  1. Do I Need A Birth Injury Attorney To Bring A Medical Negligence Case In Pennsylvania?

A birth injury lawyer is not legally required but is strongly advisable. Birth injury litigation is highly intricate, with rigid rules. A medical malpractice attorney understands how to navigate the process successfully.

  1. Is There A Time Limit For Filing A Hypoxia Birth Injury Claim? 

Yes, a minor child has until their 20th birthday to file a birth injury claim from the date of injury. Time is truly of the essence.

  1. What Kinds Of Damages Can I Claim In My Birth Injury Case?

You can seek recovery for both economic and non-economic damages like medical bills, hospitalizations, loss of future income, therapies, adaptations, caregiving, emotional anguish, loss of consortium between parents, and more. A birth injury attorney will thoroughly assess your entitlements.  

  1. How Much Does It Cost To Hire A Birth Injury Lawyer?

Most reputable medical malpractice firms, including Raynes & Lawn, handle these sensitive cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning legal fees only come from compensation awarded. There are no upfront costs or expenses for families.

  1. What Should I Do If I Suspect My Child Suffered Oxygen Deprivation At Birth?

First, ensure your child receives the necessary medical care and support. Then, consult with a birth injury lawyer to discuss your situation and explore your legal options.

Getting Support On Your Family’s Path Forward  

The road ahead will indeed have twists and turns after the devastation of oxygen deprivation. But take comfort that you do not have to walk it alone without the power of knowledge or help to carry the load.

Leading birth injury attorneys stand ready to guide your family toward justice, critical resources, and brighter days where hope persists. You, and most importantly, your precious child, deserve nothing less.

Don’t hesitate to contact our talented and knowledgeable birth injury lawyers at Raynes & Lawn Trial Lawyers to protect your rights and your child’s future. Justice may be a long process, but the outcome and results our attorneys achieve can make a tremendous difference for your family. Call us today at 1(800) 535-1797 for more information.