The word asphyxia means a lack of oxygen. It doesn’t matter how old you are, a lack of oxygen can cause a variety of damage.

As the name suggests, birth asphyxia is when a baby’s brain and other organs do not receive enough oxygen. This can happen before, during, or following birth. Unfortunately, it can also happen without notice, meaning that the risk of injury is much greater.

In simple terms, a lack of oxygen makes it impossible for cells to work as intended. Subsequently, the end result can be permanent damage to the body.

Some of the most common reasons for birth asphyxia include:

— If the placenta separates from the uterus too soon.

— If there is not enough oxygen in the mother’s blood.

— A serious infection.

— Issues with the umbilical cord.

— If the baby’s airway is blocked.

— If the baby’s airway is not fully formed.

— Anemia.

As an expecting parent, it’s important to understand the possible causes of birth asphyxia. This can go a long way in helping you prevent an issue, as you will have a better idea of what to watch for before, during, and after delivery.

It is also important that your delivery team is both experienced and knowledgeable. There are times when birth asphyxia can be prevented, but only if the medical team pinpoints the concern and deals with it without delay.

Every year, many babies suffer from birth asphyxia. Unfortunately, there are times when this could have been prevented. If this happens to your child, be sure to receive specialized treatment to ensure a better understanding of what happened and what the future will bring.

Source: Seattle Children’s Hospital, “What Is Birth Asphyxia?,” accessed May 17, 2016