When a baby is having trouble breathing or is not receiving enough oxygen, it can result in very serious health and developmental problems. All cells in the body require oxygen to metabolize glucose, but the brain has more oxygen demands than any part of the body, and a few minutes of infant asphyxiation can result in cell death and brain damage. Though asphyxiation can occur before or after birth, the most vulnerable time is during the birth itself, and this is when physicians must be very careful to watch for and prevent the different infant asphyxia causes.
Infant Asphyxia Causes Related to Delivery Complications
One of the biggest dangers during a delivery is depriving a baby of oxygen. Just a few minutes of asphyxiation can lead to permanent damage or death, and because deliveries can last for several hours, there is a significant risk. The longer and more difficult a delivery is, the greater danger of asphyxiation.
A prolapsed umbilical cord, which occurs when the cord drops in front of the baby in the birth canal, can result in asphyxiation if the umbilical cord becomes pinched, wrapped, or pressed tightly against the vaginal walls. In addition, if the amniotic membrane is ruptured too early or if there is a lack of amniotic fluid, this can also cause asphyxia. This is because the amniotic fluid acts as a cushion for both the baby and the umbilical cord, preventing too much trauma or pressure on the baby during delivery.
Infant Asphyxia Causes Related to Anemia
An infant may also asphyxiate if his blood is unable to carry enough oxygen to his cells. This is typically caused by iron deficiency or other issues related to the hemoglobin that transports oxygen in the baby’s red blood cells. If the mother suffers from anemia, this type of asphyxia can occur before and during the delivery. Asphyxia may also occur after the delivery if the baby has anemia himself.
Infant Asphyxia Causes Related to Respiratory Issues
Sometimes infant asphyxia is caused by problems with a baby’s lungs and their respiratory system. If a baby is born prematurely, before 37 weeks, his lungs may not be fully developed. If doctors are aware of this problem, they can make sure that the baby is given the right treatment immediately after the delivery, but if the doctors are unaware, this can result in deadly asphyxiation. Additionally, a baby’s airways may not be properly developed, or they may be blocked after birth by food or other objects. This can also cause infant asphyxiation.
Infant Asphyxia Causes Related to Blood Pressure
Even if the mother and child are not anemic, the baby’s body may not receive enough oxygen if the blood pressure is not sufficient to deliver that oxygen to all the parts of the baby’s body. Both excessively high and low blood pressure can be an issue, and this is why the medical staff must consider a mother’s blood pressure during a delivery. In addition, a baby’s blood pressure after delivery is critically important as well, and if his organs are not fully developed, he may not be able to provide oxygenated blood to the brain and other important parts of his body.
Infant Asphyxia Causes Related to Maternal Sedation
One of the infant asphyxia causes that is less understood is the role of maternal sedation during pregnancy. Depending on the health and the condition of the mother, different types of sedatives could affect the mother’s blood pressure and the ability of the mother’s blood to absorb and carry oxygen. In some cases, the sedation can result in infant asphyxiation.