Intrauterine Hypoxia (antenatal period)

Intrauterine hypoxia (IH) occurs when the fetus does not receive an adequate supply of oxygen before delivery. IH may be the result of a variety of conditions such as cord prolapse, cord occlusion, and placental infarction. IH, if not timely recognized and treated, can result in hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy which is cellular damage within the central nervous system. Organs such as the brain, heart, and lungs can be permanently damaged due to IH.

What are the Symptoms of Intrauterine Hypoxia?

Before birth, the baby may have weak breathing or low heart rate. Upon birth, the baby may have purplish colored skin, weak muscle tone and reflexes, or a low heart rate. During labor and delivery, the mother’s blood pressure may also be low.

What Causes Intrauterine Hypoxia?

A long, stressful, or complicated birth process may cause IH, as well as a prolapsed umbilical cord. An infant may be anemic or have an infection. Medical emergencies such as rupture of the uterus can occur during the birthing process. The mother may have respiratory problems associated with anesthesia. For these reasons, medical professionals should exercise the necessary care required to ensure the safety of both the mother and baby throughout labor and delivery. A device known as the fetal heart monitor is useful in tracking the baby’s heart rate and can be closely watched to alert medical staff if the baby’s blood or oxygen levels are being disrupted.

What Treatments are used for Intrauterine Hypoxia?

In cases of emergency, the baby will be delivered through C-Section. If symptoms appear before the onset of labor, extra oxygen can be supplied to the mother. Medicines may be administered to control blood pressure. The arterial blood of the umbilical cord can be tested for improper acid levels. The need for appropriate and immediate action is critical if signs or symptoms of Intrauterine Hypoxia appear. These measures are necessary to avoid possible serious or permanent injury to the baby.

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