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Why does perinatal asphyxia occur?

| Oct 18, 2019 | Birth Injuries

All pregnant women hope for a smooth birthing process prior to the arrival of a healthy baby boy or girl. Unfortunately, complications do occur, some of which can have a severe impact. Perinatal asphyxia is one such complication that occurs when a baby doesn’t receive enough oxygen. Swift medical treatment is crucial in this case, as explained by Healthline

Some babies have a greater risk of developing symptoms of perinatal asphyxia. Older mothers or those with certain medical conditions, such as preeclampsia and diabetes, have a higher risk of delivering a baby with perinatal asphyxia. So do women who give birth prematurely or those whose babies are a lower birth weight. Symptoms typically appear immediately after birth and include a slower than normal heart rate, pale skin or skin that has a bluish tint, problems breathing, and diminished muscle tone. 

Breathing issues immediately after birth can have a wide range of causes. In some cases, the umbilical cord can wrap around the baby and restrict breathing. In others, the baby’s airway may be blocked during the delivery. Issues with the mother’s blood pressure, difficult deliveries, anemia, and infection can all contribute to perinatal asphyxia. Doctors may administer oxygen to babies to prevent more serious effects while warming blankets ensure that the baby maintains a healthy body temperature.

Doctors diagnose perinatal asphyxia via an Apgar score. Testing is conducted up to 5 minutes after delivery and doctors look at 5 different factors, including appearance, pulse, breathing, muscle tone, and stimulus-response. Scores of 0, 1, or 2 are assessed for each factor, and the total score is added up at the end of testing. The lower the score, the more likely it is that a baby is experiencing perinatal asphyxia.