Birth asphyxia, which is also referred to as neonatal asphyxia or perinatal asphyxia, is a medical condition resulting from deprivation of oxygen to a newborn infant that lasts long enough during the birth process to cause brain damage to the baby. Birth asphyxia is very preventable when proper electronic fetal heart rate monitoring and proper supervision and interventions are employed.
Before babies are born, they rely on their mother’s placenta to provide oxygen and nutrients from the placenta through the umbilical cord to the developing fetus. Certain medical conditions, such as placental insufficiency, nuchal cords, and placental abruption, can cause the reduction of blood and oxygen that flows from the placenta to the fetus. If not corrected or addressed quickly enough, these conditions can result in the deprivation of oxygen and blood to the fetus’ vital organs. The deprivation of oxygen and blood can cause hypoxia and ischemia that results in tissue death. If the asphyxia is severe enough and not addressed by doctors, midwives, or nurses, it can cause severe brain damage that can result in cerebral palsy, cortical visual impairment, seizures, and developmental delays.