Birth Asphyxia: Meaning, Symptoms

Birth asphyxia or child asphyxia is an asphyxic episode experienced by the baby or an infant during the time of delivery or when it is still inside the mother’s womb. That is, a baby can experience asphyxia when it still in the womb (well before 5 months before delivery) to till birth and chances are sometimes they experience it after birth till one month or so. Their incidence is so high that a pregnant woman and physician has to be alert of this problem during entire stage of carry and delivery.

Asphyxia meaning:

Asphyxia is a condition of lack of proper oxygen and blood supply to the whole body or any particular organ or part of the body. This leads to insufficient glucose utilization and chances of irreversible cell death and tissue or organ damage are possible. And if this happens to the baby around birth it is termed as birth asphyxia or neonatal asphyxia.

Birth asphyxia is ‘‘the failure to initiate and sustain breathing at birth’’.

How birth asphyxia happens:

Asphyxia inside the womb: This mostly occurs in case of mothers with

♦ anemia, low hemoglobin content, or

♦ if using any medicines affecting the baby in the womb.

♦ Insufficient diet by the mother or

♦ intoxication by alcoholism or cigar smoking by the mother during a carriage.

Asphyxia outside the womb or after delivery: This is mostly the consequence of internal experience of the baby in the womb or sometimes genetic reasons. The sedative drugs or pain killers used during delivery to minimize the pain of delivery to the mother may inactivate the respiration center in the baby. So baby may now be unable to breathe outside the womb and can lead to asphyxia.  This chances continue till one month or more after delivery.

Birth asphyxia symptoms:

→ Unconsciousness of the babe. The baby may not cry after delivery.

→ Epileptic seizure in the baby. This has to be recognized with caution and mother may not be able to guess it as much as physician and nurses do.
→ Bluish coloration of the body of the baby.
This sometimes can also lead to death of the baby.
Even if grown up there are chances of mental retardation, memory, attention related problems in the individual.

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