Baby lack of oxygen during delivery

Asphyxia means lack of oxygen. Birth asphyxia happens when a baby's brain and other organs do not get enough oxygen before, during or right after birth. This can happen without anyone knowing. Without oxygen, cells cannot work properly. Waste products (acids) build up in the cells and cause temporary or permanent damage.

Some causes of birth asphyxia may include:
Too little oxygen in the mother's blood before or during birth
Problems with the placenta separating from the uterus too soon
Very long or difficult delivery
Problems with the umbilical cord during delivery
A serious infection in the mother or baby
High or low blood pressure in the mother
Baby's airway is not formed properly
Baby's airway is blocked
The baby's blood cells cannot carry enough oxygen (anemia)

Asphyxia can have negative effects on all of the organs, including the brain. Asphyxia can occur in the womb, during delivery, or immediately after birth. Lack of oxygen, depending on how severe it is and how long it lasts, can have profound consequences to the brain and the rest of the body.

During birth, asphyxia may occur depending on how labour progresses. During labor, particularly a long and difficult one, oxygen flow to the unborn baby can be interrupted due to a squeezed umbilical cord or the placenta may become detached prematurely, cutting off the oxygen supply.

There are two treatments for asphyxia:
hypothermic therapy, which produces a small deliberate drop in the baby’s temperature;
support, by encouraging improved oxygen delivery and blood circulation

Hypothermic therapy cools a baby’s brain cells by 3.5 degrees centigrade (about 6.5 F). This cooling slows down cell metabolism giving damaged brain cells time to recover. Lowering the newborn’s temperature gives those cells the extra time they need to return to a normal metabolic process. Although the process is not completely understood, it is rather like the cold in the kitchen refrigerator slowing down the decay of perishable foods.

Support consists of strategies to improve oxygen delivery within the body. Usually, this means delivering oxygen rather than air to the baby, often with mechanical ventilation. Additionally, blood circulation is monitored and, when necessary, improved by giving extra fluids, blood, or drugs to support heart function and blood pressure. A balance must be maintained; if blood pressure is too high, there is a risk of bleeding in the brain.

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About Elena Voznyuk
Current: Anoka, Minnesota
Birth: November 22
On Moms.com since: Jun 21, 2013
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