Ontario Birth Injury Lawyer Advocating for Clients in Perinatal Asphyxia Cases
Serious birth injuries can occur at various points in a pregnancy, as well as during labor and delivery, when a healthcare provider makes an error or fails to provider proper care. Both acts and omissions can result in debilitating birth injuries that can severely harm an infant and can have lifelong effects. Not only can a baby’s life expectancy be shortened as a result of a serious birth injury, but many birth injuries make it difficult or even impossible for the child to live a fulfilling life. In some cases, birth injuries can even be fatal.
One serious type of birth injury that happens much more often than it should is perinatal asphyxia. If your child suffered serious injuries as a result of perinatal asphyxia, you should seek advice from an Ontario perinatal asphyxia lawyer as soon as possible. You may be able to file a claim to seek financial compensation and to hold the responsible party economically accountable.
What is Perinatal Asphyxia?
Asphyxia is a term that refers to being deprived of oxygen. Perinatal asphyxia, then, refers to a situation in which an infant is deprived of oxygen during the perinatal period, which is the time immediately before and just after birth, according to MedicineNet. Perinatal asphyxia occurs during labor and delivery, and as such it often is referred to as “birth asphyxia” according to the University of California, San Francisco Benioff Children’s Hospital. In some cases, perinatal asphyxia can occur before or just after the child’s birth, as well.
What Causes Perinatal Asphyxia?
Perinatal asphyxia occurs most frequently during a prolonged birth in which the baby does not receive adequate oxygen, or is deprived of oxygen. The following are some of the causes of birth asphyxia, according to the Benioff Children’s Hospital:
- Respiratory problems in the mother caused by inadequate oxygen levels in the blood;
- Anesthesia error resulting in inadequate oxygen in the mother’s blood;
- Mother’s low blood pressure;
- Inadequate relaxation of the uterus during childbirth, which can prevent oxygen from circulating to the placenta;
- Placental abruption, which is the early separation of the placenta from the uterus;
- Post-term pregnancies, especially beyond 42 weeks, that lead to poor placenta function;
- Poor placenta function due to the mother’s high blood pressure;
- Baby’s severe anemia;
- Low blood pressure or shock in the infant;
- Infant’s respiratory problems; and/or
- Heart of lung disease in the infant.
Consequences of Perinatal Asphyxia
Being deprived of oxygen during the birth process can have devastating effects on a child. According to an article in EPMA Journal, a journal of predictive, preventive, and personalized medicine, perinatal asphyxia continues to occur at high rates despite the fact that there have been significant improvements in perinatal care. That article emphasizes that healthcare providers need to do more in order to assess the short-term and long-term consequences of perinatal asphyxia, and to better assess predictive factors that could result in perinatal asphyxia during childbirth.
There are serious consequences associated with perinatal asphyxia, which result from improper cell function and cell damage. Birth asphyxia commonly is associated with organ damage to the:
- Blood vessels;
- Gastrointestinal tract;
- Lungs; and
Signs and Symptoms of Birth Asphyxia
Each infant experiences perinatal asphyxia in a different way. As such, there is no cumulative list of signs and symptoms that apply to every case. However, signs that an infant may be suffering from perinatal asphyxia can include but are not limited to these symptoms in the infant:
- Abnormal heart rate;
- Abnormal heart rhythm;
- Increased acid in blood;
- Particularly pale skin;
- Bluish-colored skin;
- Low heart rate;
- Weak muscles;
- Weak reflexes;
- Weak cry;
- Weak breathing;
- Gasping; and/or
- Meconium in the amniotic fluid.
Statute of Limitations in a Perinatal Asphyxia Case
The Limitations Act specifies that personal injury cases, which include perinatal asphyxia birth injury claims, have a two-year statute of limitations in most cases. The two-year statute of limitations means that a plaintiff must file a claim within two years from the date of the birth injury or else the claim can become time-barred.
However, it is important to note that birth injury cases may result in an extended statute of limitations due to the very young age of the injured party. Regardless, you should never assume that you have more than two years to file a lawsuit. It is important to speak with an experienced Ontario birth injury as soon as possible to get started on your claim.
Damages for a Perinatal Asphyxia
Treating perinatal asphyxia and the debilitations it may produce can be extremely difficult. Hospital bills and follow-up medical treatments can be costly, and the baby’s injuries can be permanently disabling.
Canadian law recognizes a family’s right to seek damages for personal injuries, including birth injuries. Most commonly, families will be eligible to seek and to receive compensatory damages, of which there are two different types:
- Compensatory damages for pecuniary losses (which may include damages for costs of previous medical care, future loss of working capacity, loss of earnings, and future costs of care);
- Compensatory damages for non-pecuniary losses, which are also known as general damages (which may include damages for pain and suffering, for example).
Compensatory damages are designed to compensate the injured party for his or her losses. When an infant dies as a result of perinatal asphyxia, the parents may be able to obtain additional compensatory damages and may be able to seek aggravated damages in particularly egregious cases. In situations in which the healthcare provider’s behavior was so despicable and extreme that punishment is appropriate, the plaintiff may be able to obtain punitive (or exemplary) damages. As the name suggests, this type of damages award is aimed at punishing the defendant’s harmful behavior rather than compensating the plaintiff for particular losses.
Contact a Perinatal Asphyxia Lawyer in Ontario
The experienced Ontario birth injury lawyers at our firm have been serving clients in Toronto and throughout Ontario for decades. We know how difficult it can be to learn that your child suffered a birth injury as a result of an obstetrician or midwife’s negligence or mistake. We can help you to file a claim and to seek compensation for your child’s losses. Contact Preszler Injury Lawyers to learn more about our firm and the personal injury services we provide to clients throughout Ontario.