Exploring Complexities of Birth Asphyxia, Hypoxia and Intrauterine Hypoxia

Becoming a parent can be termed as one of the most wonderful events in a couple’s life. However, pregnancies may sometimes be subjected to complications and uncalled for predicaments. Some of the most critical problems include Birth Asphyxia, Birth Hypoxia and Intrauterine Hypoxia, which are discussed in this article.

The word Asphyxia means lack of oxygen. During pregnancy or right after birth the baby might at some point face a lack of sufficient oxygen that can profoundly affect the newborn’s proper growth, development and functioning. Due to this lack of oxygen, the cells’ functioning is impaired and the buildup of wastes can cause temporary or permanent damage to the babies’ key organs. Asphyxia can be caused by numerous reasons some of which include: early and abrupt separation of placenta from the uterine wall, presence of anemic cells in the baby, infections of any sort prevailing within the mother, complications that may arouse during delivery, lack of oxygen in the mothers blood, improper or incomplete development of the baby’s airways and/or an obstruction is present in the airways. Asphyxia can cause severe damage to the baby but it is dependent upon the severity of the condition and how quickly the treatment is given. Babies with mild cases of asphyxia may recover fully within a given time period. However, babies whose cells could not receive enough oxygen for a prolonged time may experience permanent injury to their brain, heart, lungs, kidneys, bowels or other organs.

Insufficient provision of oxygen to brain when occurs gives birth to Hypoxia and Cerebral Palsy, which initially affects the cerebral hemisphere and later the entire brain. Furthermore, developmental disabilities, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or impaired sight are subsequent health risks associated with Hypoxia. In some severe cases when the treatment is delayed the disease can cause organ failure and can be fatal. In case of organ failure, technologies such as Continuous Dialysis for kidney failure, ECMO for heart and/or lung failure and whole body cooling with Bedside Brain Monitoring are among the treatment options.

A similar condition that emerges during pregnancy or childbirth related complexities is Intrauterine Hypoxia, which is the deprivation of oxygen to the unborn baby during fetal stage. Often it is caused by prolapse or occlusion of the umbilical cord, placental infarction and maternal smoking. It causes cellular damage within the nervous system, increasing chances of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). This condition can cause many problems later on such as epilepsy, ADHD and eating disorders because oxygen deprivation is the leading contributor to these neurological disorders. Cigarette smoking by expectant mothers has a wide variety of deterioratory effects on the developing fetus. Among the negative effects are carbon monoxide induced tissue hypoxia and placental insufficiency which causes a reduction in blood flow from the uterus to the placenta thus decreasing the availability of oxygenated blood to the fetus. Treatment of infants suffering birth asphyxia by lowering the core body temperature is now known to be an effective therapy to reduce mortality and improve neurological outcome in survivors. Intrauterine hypoxia and birth asphyxia were listed together as the tenth leading causes of neonatal death.

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