Birth injuries are often produced by depriving the infant of blood flow
or oxygen, or both, during final stages of labor. The results can be cerebral
palsy, developmental impairment, or even death.
What is Anoxia? What is Hypoxia?
Anoxia means a lack of oxygen. Medically, anoxia is the deficiency of oxygen particularly in organs or
muscle groups. It occurs because of reduced blood flow, or insufficient
infusion of oxygen into the blood. When the brain is deprived of oxygen,
the resulting condition is Cerebral Anoxia. Cerebral anoxia leads rapidly
to permanent brain damage.
occurs when low oxygen levels. Hypoxia also characterizes environmental areas. Hypoxia usually only effects
individual body parts, such as arms that have low oxygen levels. Newborns
can suffer hypoxia if born prematurely and with lungs that are not fully
How Do Anoxia or Hypoxia Occur?
Anoxia and hypoxia are well known hazards that can happen during labor
and childbirth. Umbilical cord complications, such as the cord being pinched
or tangled, can reduce or prevent blood and oxygen flow to the baby. Oxygen
deprivation quickly damages the body and vital organs and is life threatening.
A minute without oxygen can lead to hypoxia, while five minutes produces
anoxia. Careful monitoring, delivery assistance, and C-Section surgical
delivery must all be immediately available to protect mother and fetus
from anoxia and hypoxia.
Can Medical Care Help if the Baby is Anoxic or Hypoxic?
Until recently, medical options to try to help a baby born anoxic or hypoxic
have been limited. Even now, an experimental chamber with 100% oxygen,
called Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, is no guarantee of a reversal of damage
due to oxygen deprivation. However, in some cases, it can help and it
should be considered immediately when infant anoxia or hypoxia are present.
What are Dangers of Anoxia and Hypoxia?
Anoxia and hypoxia can cause brain damage and other developmental problems.
Oxygen deprivation gives rise to cerebral palsy, retardation, and other
life altering complications. Brain death, and physical complete death
are also risks.
Can Medical Tests Confirm or Rule Out Anoxic or Hypoxic Brain Injury?
Yes, eventually, tests can confirm or rule out brain injuries in babies.
Sometimes, though, tests are not definitive for several months. Immediate
tests include CT scan of the head, MRI of the brain, and Electroencephalography
(EEG). Specialized CTs, called SPECT tests, can examine s areas of the
brain for blood flow and brain activity.
What are the Symptoms of an Anoxic/Hypoxic Brain Injury?
There are known symptoms that parents and care providers can look out for
when looking for anoxia and hypoxia. These symptoms include: lethargy,
weakened limbs, spastic or jerky motions, inability to track with the
eyes, delayed response to stimuli, lack of control of head motions, delayed
learning, and, for some babies, unconsciousness and seizures.
- Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy
- Anoxic Brain Damage