Birth Asphyxia

Dr Manigandan Chandrasekaran, Dr. R. Kishore Kumar
Dr Manigandan Chandrasekaran
Consultant Neonatologist, Cloudnine Hospital,
54 Vijayaraghava Road, T Nagar,
Chennai Tamilnadu 600017.
Dr. R. Kishore Kumar
Consultant Neonatologist & Pediatrician,
Cloudnine Hospital, 1533, 9th Main,
3rd Block Jayanagar, Bangalore – 560011

First Created: 09/05/2018  Last Updated: 09/05/2018

Patient Education

What is Birth Asphyxia?

Birth asphyxia is the name for when your child doesn’t breathe normally during, or after birth. The term ‘Asphyxia’ is a condition that describes a decreased or discontinued level of oxygen.

What Causes Birth Asphyxia?

Causes include Inadequate oxygen levels in the mother's blood due to medical conditions or lowered respirations caused by anesthesia, placental abruption (early separation of the placenta from the uterus), compression of the umbilical cord that decreases blood flow (cord prolapse), and poor placenta function due to medical conditions like hypertension.

How is birth asphyxia diagnosed?

The symptoms of a child not breathing is itself enough to diagnose birth asphyxia. It could also be present if a child is silent, limp, blue, or has trouble breathing. Doctors may need to examine and do some blood tests (to look for an increase in acid) before a definitive diagnosis is made.

What is the treatment for Birth Asphyxia?

If the baby isn’t breathing, the medical staff may provide breathing with an Ambu bag. If the baby continues to be unwell with not breathing, they might use a ventilator (artificial breathing machine). Oxygen might be needed as well.

What are the long term risks for a baby after birth asphyxia?

When a baby does not breathe at birth for any period of time, there is a mild risk of having brain damage. Brain damage includes intellectual disability, cerebral palsy, and other problems such as seizures that could happen if the baby suffers a severe form of birth asphyxia.


1. Lawn JE, Cousens S, Zupan J. 4 million neonatal deaths: when? Where? Why? Lancet 2005;365:891-900.
2. Pierrat V, Haouari N, Liska A, Thomas D, Subtil D, Truffert P. Prevalence, causes, and outcome at 2 years of age of newborn encephalopathy: population based study. Archives of disease in childhood Fetal and neonatal edition 2005;90:F257-61.
3. Edwards AD, Brocklehurst P, Gunn AJ, et al. Neurological outcomes at 18 months of age after moderate hypothermia for perinatal hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy: synthesis and meta-analysis of trial data. Bmj;340:c363.


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