Birth Asphyxia Lawyers Representing the Black Community

In the U.S., we’re waking up to more of the ways that racial disparities affect the health of the Black community. And there’s one inequality that affects every single Black person born in this country — the wide gap in the field of maternal healthcare.

The collateral damage of this system-wide failure is often shouldered by the most vulnerable among us. Injuries resulting from birth asphyxia are just one example — one with lifelong consequences.

Source: Wikipedia, shared under a CC BY-SA 4.0 International license

What Is Birth Asphyxia?

Birth asphyxia (also called perinatal asphyxia), is the fifth-leading cause of infant mortality worldwide. According to the WHO, it’s responsible for about 900,000 deaths a year. The term refers to a baby’s brain and other organs being deprived of oxygen before, during or immediately after birth.

This lack of oxygen can lead to brain damage, heart failure and paralysis. Worse — most cases of birth asphyxia are preventable, the result of medical negligence.

Risk Factors

One of the reasons that birth asphyxia is rarer than ever for American mothers is the medical profession’s greater knowledge of risk factors. For expectant mothers, these can include:

  • Gestational diabetes
  • Placental abruption
  • Uterine rupture
  • Shoulder dystocia
  • Prolonged delivery
  • Underdeveloped lungs
  • Fetal anemia
  • Prolapsed umbilical cord
  • Infections in mother or child

In newborns, the signs of birth asphyxia can manifest in:

  • Pale or blue skin
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Weak heart rate
  • Poor muscle tone
  • Lack of startle reflex
  • Problems with blood clotting
  • Tiredness
  • Seizures

How Race Plays a Role

There haven’t been many studies in racial differences in the prevalence of birth asphyxia — but initial returns have shown greater incidence for Black newborns

There are a number of reasons for this, but most end in negligence. Gestational diabetes, a condition disproportionally borne by the Black community, is one of the risk factors that should warn doctors of the possibility of birth asphyxia. Proper monitoring of fetal heart rate is essential for early risk detection — the negligence that overwhelmingly affects the Black community may also be a factor here.

How to Know if Medical Negligence is Responsible for Your Infant’s Injury

Legally speaking, medical negligence involves a breach of care on the part of the attending physician. In cases of birth asphyxia, this could be reflected in a lack of attention given to risk factors — up to and including their specific risk to Black mothers. 

Negligence also covers delays in ordering a timely C-section when birth asphyxia is a risk or injuries inflicted during delivery.

The Lifelong Consequences of Birth Asphyxia 

Depriving a newborn of oxygen is the most predictably harmful possibility for a pregnancy. The resulting damage to brain and other organs can lead to disabilities that run the spectrum. The following are just some of the problems associated with this complication:

  • Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE)
  • Seizure disorders
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Neurodevelopmental disabilities
  • Motor disorders
  • Physical and mental impairments

Birth Asphyxia and HIE

HIE is a brain injury often caused by birth asphyxia. On its own, it is the cause of 23 percent of neonatal deaths worldwide.

HIE caused by birth asphyxia is the leading cause of infant deaths in the US, as well as the greatest factor in developmental impairments.

Source: Wikipedia, shared under a CC BY-SA 4.0 International license

When to Consult with a Lawyer Experienced in Discrimination

Lee Merritt, Esq. is a longtime leader and influential voice in the fight for Social Justice, representing high-profile civil rights cases like that of Jonathan Price, a 31-year-old Black man killed by police while intervening in a domestic dispute.

A dedicated civil rights activist and trial attorney, Mr. Merritt runs a distinguished national practice focusing on victims of police brutality, hate crimes and corporate discrimination. As an activist, he has championed police reform and community empowerment. His office has led the way to reform in Texas, a state notorious for its failure to prosecute police officers, successfully advocating for the first murder indictments of officers in the state in over 40 years.

There are many more battles to fight on behalf of the 22 percent of Black women who report discrimination in their medical care. For a free consultation please fill out our form, write [email protected] or call us directly at 1-800-590-4116.

About S. Lee Merritt

Civil Rights Lawyer

Lee Merritt, Esq. is emerging as a leading and influential new voice in the fight for Social Justice. A dedicated civil rights activist and trial attorney, Merritt runs a high profile national practice focusing on victims of police brutality, hate crimes and corporate discrimination. As an activist, he has championed police reform and community empowerment. 

Do you need more information or want to help? 

Our organization can help mothers and their families who have faced medical issues during pregnancy learn about the resources available to them, as well as learn about what action they may be able to take legally due to discriminatory health practices.  Contact us below by email or phone and our team can learn more about your situation and give you free and friendly advice.

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