Perinatal Asphyxia

Perinatal asphyxia is also known as breathing failure for a baby at birth. This is a medical condition that is responsible for the deaths of over 900,000 babies every year. It mostly happens due to improper oxygen intake while the doctors deliver. It can occur before, during, or right after the baby's birth.

As a result of decreased oxygen intake, chemical changes will initiate within the body, leading to hypoxemia. Hence, this indicates low oxygen levels in the blood. Apart from that, the baby also suffers from acidosis, which indicates too much acid reaction in your baby's blood.

Types of Perinatal Asphyxia

There are two types of perinatal asphyxia: mild and severe. Severe asphyxia babies will have an Apgar score of less than or equal to three in one minute, along with a pH value of less than 7.10 for the umbilical artery.

On the other hand, the non-severe asphyxia babies have an Apgar score of less than or equal to six in one minute, along with a pH value of less than 7.20 for the umbilical artery. Atypical heart rate patterns are also symptoms of non-severe perinatal asphyxia.

Symptoms of Perinatal Asphyxia

Some of the symptoms that indicate a baby is suffering from perinatal asphyxia and needs medical treatment are:

  • abnormal heart rate of the foetus
  • Low pH levels before birth
  • Too much acid warning before birth
  • Poor skin colour at birth
  • Even after a successful delivery, your heart rate has dropped
  • Weakened muscle tone
  • Weak breathing reflexes
  • Seizures

Causes of perinatal asphyxia

Perinatal asphyxia is possible due to some maternal health conditions. Some health conditions that affect the mother transmit their repercussions or negative effects to the babies within their womb. Some of the maternal causes that trigger perinatal asphyxia in babies are:

  • Haemorrhage
  • Amniotic Fluid Embolism
  • Hemodynamic Collapse
  • Placental events such as acute abruption
  • Uterine events such as rupture
  • Cord events such as cord prolapse or a tight nuchal cord
  • An intrapartum infection may cause maternal fever during labour

So, during the last stages of pregnancy, doctors need to check the mother and her baby carefully to make sure they are both healthy. You need to consult the best doctors during your pregnancy to ensure no complications arise during the delivery of your baby.

When Should I See the Doctor?

If your baby doesn’t take oxygen properly upon birth, doctors will eventually rate them and consider them for a diagnosis. They will keep you updated on your baby’s health. But, sometimes, the baby shows the symptoms a little late. So, take note of the symptoms mentioned above, and if there’s anything unusual, book an appointment with the best doctor.

Risk factors for perinatal asphyxia

Doctors should provide mothers with regular and up-to-date treatment to prevent any potential risk factors from causing perinatal asphyxia in their babies. Still, some of the common and independent risk factors that might cause perinatal asphyxia in babies are:

  • Antepartum haemorrhage
  • Caesarean delivery
  • Instrumental delivery
  • Foetal distress
  • A child born with low-weight
  • Preterm birth
  • Meconium-stained amniotic fluid

complications of perinatal asphyxia

If perinatal asphyxia isn't treated, there's a good chance that the baby's organs will be severely damaged or that it will die. Moreover, in some cases, the babies also undergo serious life-long pathologies. Upon critical neglect of treatments, a child might develop neurodegenerative diseases, epilepsies, and mental retardation.

Prevention of Perinatal Asphyxia

The only way to prevent perinatal asphyxia is for mothers to get their health conditions diagnosed and treated before conceiving or in the early stages of pregnancy. Aside from that, the best doctors should be present at every birth to ensure that any adversity in a newborn is addressed immediately with healthcare measures.

Treatment of Perinatal Asphyxia

Doctors will recommend several treatment measures, including medicines, kidney support solutions, blood pressure medications, breathing support solutions, and others, depending on the severity of your baby’s asphyxia condition. You must have your baby delivered only at the best hospitals and by the best doctors.


Perinatal asphyxia is a serious condition, and many babies die from it every year because inexperienced doctors and parents who don't know what to do, don't take care of them. Therefore, you must choose the right hospital for your delivery. The facilities will assign you the most experienced medical experts to explain all the processes and take care of your healthy delivery. If there are any problems with your newborn baby's health, they will take immediate action to stabilise the situation.

Request an appointment at Apollo Cradle, Bengaluru - Brookefield. Call 1860-500-1066 to book an appointment.

1. How is perinatal asphyxia treated before the child is born?

Perinatal asphyxia is treated by giving additional oxygen to the mother before delivery or by conducting an emergency caesarean delivery for the mother.

2. What is the recovery period for perinatal asphyxia in babies?

Depending on the severity of the health conditions, the babies recover from perinatal asphyxia within 6 to 14 days.

3. Can a baby get permanent injuries due to perinatal asphyxia?

If the asphyxia symptoms are mild or moderate, then the baby might recover completely. But if the cells are deprived of too much oxygen for a long time, then it might result in permanent injury.

4. What are some long-term effects of asphyxia in babies?

The long-term effects of asphyxia in babies might result in disabilities such as hearing loss, cortical blindness, epilepsy, and even death.

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