Birth Injury Blog

The Relationship Between Metabolic Acidosis and Cerebral Palsy

Posted By Beam & Raymond || 14-Jan-2015

When a newborn exhibits certain signs of distress prior to birth, it's important for health care providers to try to determine whether that distress will, in the end, cause problems for a child's development. A troubling fetal heart rate pattern, the presence of meconium at birth, a difficult or protracted labor, overuse of drugs such as oxytocin (Pitocin), and the use of instruments such as vacuum or forceps are all factors that should be considered before drawing labs to determine an infant's condition.

If one or more of these factors are present, it may be a good idea for a health care provider to draw what is known as an "arterial cord blood" sample. This sample of blood is taken directly from the link between a mother and her newborn – the umbilical cord. This sample can provide the best estimate of how health a baby was prior to birth, the level of oxygenation that was available to the newborn during labor, and will also provide a good measurement of his or her current condition.

After obtaining this sample of blood, lab tests are done to determine if metabolic acidosis is present. If you have ever run a marathon, you know the pain that extended exercise can cause; cramping and shortness of breath are signs that your body is creating energy in a way that doesn't use oxygen. Energy production without oxygen causes acid to build up in the body. Newborns are no different. If there isn't as much oxygen as a baby needs in utero, he or she will compensate, but after some time, the acid that is produced will accumulate in an infant's blood, which can lead to complications such as metabolic acidosis, bleeding in the brain, and seizures shortly after birth.

To determine how to treat an infant who has been the victim of this condition, a doctor should take a blood sample, and the best care should be provided in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). However, a long term prognosis for children with extensive metabolic acidosis can often include cerebral palsy.

If you believe that your child may have been the victim of medical malpractice that led to this condition, it is important that you contact a Chicago birth injury lawyer to help. Beam & Raymond have been handling these cases for decades, and will fight for you and your child.

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