It is an unfortunate reality that birth asphyxiation occurs in 1 out of 1000 births in developed countries. Birth asphyxiation is one of many causes of cerebral palsy; what differentiates this cause however is that properly managed, the life changing consequences of birth asphyxiation can be avoided. Proper management by hospital staff can be the difference between a healthy child and a child with life debilitating cerebral palsy.
A child who has suffered birth asphyxiation often arrives to the world colourless, lifeless and many require resuscitation in order to achieve his/her first breath. It had previously been the case that once a child was born in this terrible condition, all medical staff could do was resuscitate the child and observe for a period following birth. Unfortunately, once a child is born in this condition the damage to the brain cells continues to spread for several hours after birth despite the provision of oxygen – oxygen alone is not enough to stop the cells from being damaged. The damage caused post birth can be the difference between a child having moderate learning difficulties or a wheel chair bound child with poorly controlled epilepsy requiring 24 hour care. In effect, these few hours will determine the course of life for not only the child but all of the family.
Recently hospitals have been inducing hypothermia in babies who are born with birth asphyxiation. Initial indicators are that this method slows down the damage caused in the hours following birth- a reduction in damage by any small amount can only be seen as a Godsend as any parent with a child suffering from cerebral palsy will tell you. Hopefully this a practice that will be rolled out across all the country’s hospitals shortly.
Researchers are now examining whether xenon gas which is naturally found in the atmosphere can also halt the ongoing damage to brain cells following birth. There are indicators that this gas can in fact penetrate the brain cells in the hours following birth and revive them to allow oxygen to flow through the cells as normal. This 18 month study has recently commenced in the UK and I for one will be keeping a close eye on development.
Lynch Solicitors has a specialist team who are able to undertake detailed investigations into medical records and events in hospitals, engaging the assistance of expert witnesses and barristers in compiling a clinical / medical negligence claim.
[custom_frame_left][/custom_frame_left] Melanie Power is a specialist solicitor dedicated to dealing with cerebral palsy claims and is able to guide an individual or a dependent family member through the complex legal process involving negligent midwifery, obstetric and gynaecological care.