Babies born at 34 weeks or more run the risk of developing a breathing condition called persistent pulmonary hypertension at birth. Before babies are born, they receive oxygen from their mother, and most of this oxygen does not reach the lungs because the blood vessels are closed. Once a newborn takes the first few breaths, the blood vessels open. Mothers in Texas should know that with PPHN, the blood vessels do not open entirely.
This leads to a lack of oxygen being carried by the blood to the brain and organs. Symptoms of PPHN include rapid or slow breathing and low blood pressure. One may notice that the baby’s skin is somewhat blue and that the hands and feet are cool to the touch. PPHN can be treated through the use of a ventilator or a heart-lung machine. It can take weeks or months for the baby to recover.
PPHN has no known causes, but several risk factors have been identified. They include infection, respiratory distress syndrome and meconium aspiration where babies inhale a fecal material called meconium into their lungs. To diagnose PPHN, doctors may order blood tests, chest X-rays or an ultrasound of the baby’s heart. Oxygen levels in the blood can be measured non-invasively via pulse oximetry.
Since the cause is not clear, it can be hard to link PPHN with medical negligence. There are times, though, especially during difficult deliveries, when doctors or nurses might commit errors that result in birth injuries. Parents may want to see a lawyer about filing a claim. If successful, their claim might cover things like past and future medical expenses, the cost of medical equipment and pain and suffering. Parents may rely on their lawyer to speak on their behalf at the negotiation table.