Perinatal Asphyxia

Perinatal asphyxia is an obstetric emergency where a baby experiences a lack of oxygen either before, during, or shortly after birth. It can come with serious consequences for the health of both mother and child. Babies can suffer neurological damage, intellectual disability, cerebral palsy, and even death if not identified and treated quickly. Early diagnosis is key to improving outcomes for both mother and baby. Prevention is also important in reducing the likelihood of this event occurring in the first place. It is therefore essential to understand what perinatal asphyxia is and how it can be prevented.

What are the different types of perinatal asphyxia?

There are three main types of perinatal asphyxia: hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), anoxia, and asphyxia. HIE occurs when there is a lack of oxygen in the baby's brain before or during childbirth. Anoxia occurs when there is no oxygen present in the baby's environment. Asphyxia happens when the oxygen supply to the baby is blocked or reduced due to labour complications, such as umbilical cord compression or a prolapsed umbilical cord.

How can one prevent perinatal asphyxia?

Perinatal asphyxia can be prevented by reducing the risk of conditions that may lead to it. This includes monitoring a mother's health throughout pregnancy and ensuring proper nutrition, as well as avoiding smoking, drug use, and excessive alcohol consumption. Ensuring timely medical care during labour is also important, and women should be aware of any warning signs that indicate the need for immediate attention. Good antenatal care with regular check-ups and scans can help detect potential problems early, allowing medical interventions to reduce the chances of perinatal asphyxia.

Who qualifies for the procedure called perinatal asphyxia?

Perinatal asphyxia is a condition where a newborn baby has not received enough oxygen before, during, or shortly after birth. It usually affects babies born at term or late preterm (34–37 weeks gestation). Premature babies are also at risk, particularly those born before 28 weeks of gestation. Babies with conditions such as congenital heart defects, chromosomal abnormalities, and meconium aspiration syndrome may be more likely to experience perinatal asphyxia. Additionally, maternal risks such as hypertension, diabetes, and infection can increase the likelihood of a baby being affected by perinatal asphyxia.

When would a doctor recommend the procedure for perinatal asphyxia?

Patients may be advised to seek treatment for perinatal asphyxia if the fetus is not getting sufficient oxygen during delivery. This condition can occur when there are complications with labour, the umbilical cord, or the placenta. If the baby has a low Apgar score at five minutes and/or poor muscle tone after birth, it could indicate a need for medical intervention. Other signs of perinatal asphyxia include seizures, irregular breathing, and blue skin colouration. Doctors will typically recommend tests such as an electrocardiogram or ultrasound to determine if perinatal asphyxia is present.

How should a patient prepare for the procedure for perinatal asphyxia?

It is important to prepare for perinatal asphyxia by taking steps before, during, and after pregnancy. Before pregnancy, ensure that you are aware of any family history of medical conditions that could increase the risk of the baby experiencing perinatal asphyxia. During pregnancy, attend all routine antenatal check-ups and take all advice given by your healthcare team seriously. After delivery, make sure you monitor your baby's health closely and report any symptoms or changes to your healthcare team immediately.

What is the post-surgical course and recovery period for perinatal asphyxia?

Perinatal asphyxia is a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment. Following surgery, the patient may remain in the ICU for several days or weeks and will be monitored closely. The length of recovery time can vary depending on the severity of the condition at diagnosis. In general, patients who suffer from mild to moderate perinatal asphyxia are expected to make a full recovery with no long-term effects. Patients with more severe cases may have lingering neurological defects and require physical therapy and other rehabilitative care.

What is the follow-up period for perinatal asphyxia?

The follow-up period for perinatal asphyxia is typically one to two years. During this time, it's important to monitor the affected baby's physical, cognitive, and motor development. Regular check-ups with a paediatrician will be required to ensure that any health problems or delays are identified and managed early on. Follow-up care may also include hearing tests and vision assessments, as well as speech and occupational therapy if necessary.


Perinatal asphyxia services offered by fertility clinics include diagnosis and treatment for conditions caused by oxygen deprivation of a baby before, during, or shortly after birth. These conditions may include hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, neonatal seizures, pulmonary hypertension, intraventricular haemorrhage, and renal dysfunction. Diagnosis typically involves physical examinations, neurological assessments, and imaging studies such as ultrasounds and MRI scans. Treatment options may involve medication or specialised therapies to manage breathing difficulties or seizures. In some cases, surgery may be necessary.

Request an appointment at Apollo Cradle, Hyderabad - Jubilee Hills. Call 1860-500-1066 to book an appointment.

1. What is the long-term prognosis of babies affected by perinatal asphyxia?

The long-term prognosis for babies affected by perinatal asphyxia depends on the severity of the condition and whether any underlying conditions were present before the incident. Generally, mild cases can resolve without any lasting effects, but more severe cases may result in permanent neurological damage or even death.

2. How does maternal age affect the chances of a baby being born with perinatal asphyxia?

Maternal age is a significant risk factor for perinatal asphyxia, with older mothers having an increased risk of delivering a baby with this condition. Additionally, women who are carrying multiple foetuses or have a history of pregnancy complications may also be at higher risk.

3. What are some common signs that a baby may have been affected by perinatal asphyxia during delivery?

Common signs that a baby may have been affected by perinatal asphyxia include low Apgar scores (less than 7 at 5 minutes after birth), poor muscle tone or reflexes, an abnormally high or low heart rate and breathing rate, seizures, and difficulty feeding or staying awake after birth.

4. What are the short-term effects of perinatal asphyxia?

The short-term effects of perinatal asphyxia can include respiratory distress syndrome (RDS), hypothermia (low body temperature), seizures, and acidosis.

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