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Understanding the root of many birth injuries: Hypoxia

Cerebral palsy, as we've been discussing in recent weeks, is a condition that can result from a doctor's negligence during delivery. However, cerebral palsy is just one of a number of birth injuries that can develop from the same root cause. Let's take a closer look at that cause this week.

When a baby doesn't receive adequate oxygen flow to the brain -- whether due to a complication before delivery, during it or even afterwards -- the medical term for this is hypoxia. Hypoxia in many cases can be mild, something from which a baby can fully recover. In recent years, medical science has progressed rapidly in identifying and treating hypoxia. If a doctor recognizes what is happening quickly and responds appropriately, stabilizing the flow of oxygen, the baby may not necessarily suffer serious injury.

The problem is that this doesn't always happen. Perhaps a negligent doctor or a negligent nurse in the delivery room does not follow standards for timely identification and urgent treatment of hypoxia. In those cases, conditions like cerebral palsy, hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy or cognitive deficiencies become increasingly likely. A newborn with these conditions is likely to require specialized long-term care, perhaps for the rest of his or her life.

The medical expenses and other costs of just a disability, calculated over a lifetime, are nothing that a family can simply adjust to along with the rest of the newborn baby costs. But a legal professional can help review the facts of a birth injury case and pursue a claim for compensation if a provider's negligence in identifying or treating hypoxia led to injury.

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