Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy It can be overwhelming trying to decipher medical jargon, especially when a lot of terms are being thrown at you so quickly.…
Lack of Oxygen during Labor and Delivery Can Cause Serious, Lifelong Damage to a Baby
Most babies are born healthy and happy. That is the hope and prayer of every parent. Unfortunately, some babies suffer very serious injuries during pregnancy, labor and delivery. Injuries caused by lack of adequate oxygen to the baby can be very serious or deadly. During the mother’s pregnancy and during labor and delivery, the baby must receive adequate oxygen from the mother which is necessary for the baby’s brain, heart, other organs, tissues and cells to function properly. When the baby is still inside the mother, the baby does not breathe oxygen. Rather, the baby gets oxygen from the mother through the blood flow that passes from the mother to the baby in the umbilical cord.
Oxygen deprivation at the time of labor and birth is known as birth asphyxia. Asphyxia is a medical term that really means suffocation. The baby is essentially suffocated inside the mother causing serious injury to the baby’s brain and other vital organs that depend on oxygen to function.
There are several medical terms that parents may hear that are related to birth asphyxia of a baby.
In recent years, a new method for treating newborns that have suffered from asphyxia, or a lack of oxygen, during birth has been gaining credibility in the medical community. The method is known as hypothermia treatment, or head cooling therapy, and, according to research from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the treatment can effectively reduce the risk of death or disability.
The head cooling treatment involves slowly reducing a baby’s internal body temperature from about 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit to roughly 91 degrees with a blanket that contains cooled circulating water or a specially designed pad. Gradually cooling the infant’s body causes the metabolic, cerebral, and muscular functions to slow down, delaying immediate and future damage, and allowing at least partial recovery of the cells.