Perinatal Asphyxia, Fetal Hypoxia and Fetal Distress

In the context of labor and delivery, asphyxia and hypoxia are general terms used to describe a complete lack of, or inadequate intake of, oxygen by a baby before, during, or immediately after birth. Common signs of asphyxia and hypoxia before delivery include:

  • erratic fetal heart rate (usually measured on a fetal heart monitor);
  • decreased fetal heart rate (“decels”); and
  • lack of fetal movement.

There are many reasons why a baby may not receive enough oxygen before, during, or immediately after the birth process. For example: (1) the mother may have a medical condition that lowers her oxygen levels, (2) there may be a problem with the manner in which the placenta transfers oxygen to the fetus, or (3) medical malpractice could result in a delivery complication or birth trauma that slows the delivery of oxygen to a baby.

Common factors that can result in low fetal oxygen levels before and during labor and delivery include:

  • low maternal oxygen levels, often secondary to decreased respiration from anesthesia;
  • low maternal blood pressure;
  • placental abruption;
  • overstimulation of the uterus, often secondary to Pitocin;
  • compression of the umbilical cord; and
  • poor placental function associated with post-date babies.

At birth, visible signs of fetal asphyxia and hypoxia include:

  • blue or pale skin color;
  • low heart rate;
  • weak muscle tone;
  • poor reflexes;
  • weak cry;
  • no cry; and
  • difficulty breathing.

The lawyers at Bottar Leone, PLLC, have considerable experience investigating, prosecuting and trying to verdict cases involving severe personal injuries, including birth injuries and birth trauma. Contact us now to discuss your case or concerns.