While childbirth often brings anticipation and joy, it can also present medical risks to both the mother and newborn. One of these risks is infant cerebral hypoxia, in which the baby’s brain does not receive enough oxygen during labor and delivery.
Expectant parents should know the risk factors, symptoms and potential complications associated with this serious medical condition.
Causes of infant cerebral hypoxia
Prolonged labor increases the risk of cerebral hypoxia as oxygen levels may drop. Issues with the placenta, such as placental abruption or placenta previa, can also disrupt the oxygen supply to the baby. Knots in the umbilical cord or umbilical cord compression may obstruct blood flow.
Maternal health conditions like preeclampsia, high blood pressure or diabetes can increase the risk of infant cerebral hypoxia. Infections in the mother may also cause hypoxia and other labor and delivery complications.
Symptoms of infant cerebral hypoxia
The symptoms of this health condition vary depending on the severity of oxygen deprivation and the duration of the condition. The baby may appear lethargic, unresponsive or have poor muscle tone. Other symptoms include difficulty feeding, irregular breathing patterns, blue-tinged skin (cyanosis) and seizures.
Potential long-term impact
The consequences of infant cerebral hypoxia can be severe and long-lasting. Some children experience permanent brain damage, leading to developmental delays and cognitive impairments. Other risks include:
- Learning disabilities
- Emotional and behavioral issues
In some cases, cerebral hypoxia contributes to the development of cerebral palsy, the most common pediatric motor disability. It affects 1 in 345 children according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Expectant parents should maintain open communication with their healthcare providers to ensure the best possible care during labor and delivery. An active approach can reduce the risk of infant cerebral hypoxia.