In many cases, the physical trauma associated with birth injuries will either dissipate, become manageable, or at least become a routine part of life with enough time and competent medical treatment. However, recent research suggests that the mental and emotional damage of trauma experienced early in life may affect some people well into adulthood. Even injuries that seem relatively minor or inconsequential at the time, can result in serious problems down the road. It is important to recognize the potential for mental and emotional issues associated with birth injury and to take steps to manage them if they begin to manifest as your child grows older.

Oxygen Deprivation During Birth

Injuries that most often cause mental and emotional problems later in life are those that deprive the brain of oxygen during birth. Even a very short period of oxygen deprivation can damage some of the structures of the brain. Oxygen deprivation can result when the newborn is being extracted out of the birth canal. The baby may be turned incorrectly during extraction or have its breathing cut off by the improper use of tools such as forceps.

Short-Term Effects of Oxygen Deprivation

Even brief periods of oxygen deprivation at birth can cause seizures or respiratory issues. Babies who don’t get enough oxygen shortly after birth may have to spend time on a respirator or in an oxygen chamber until they have proper oxygen levels in their blood. Almost all the organs can be affected by lack of oxygen, though it can be especially hard on the brain, heart and respiratory system.

Long-Term Effects of Oxygen Deprivation

Some effects of oxygen deprivation during birth may not manifest until later in life. These are most often the ones caused by mild to moderate brain damage due to lack of oxygen. Babies who experience oxygen deprivation during birth have a higher risk of anxiety and depression. Those with more serious instances of oxygen deprivation may also have learning disabilities or emotional and behavioral problems such as ADHD.

Recognizing Emotional Problems in Children

Most mental and emotional issues are not easily recognizable until the infant grows into early childhood. Certain learning disabilities can usually be identified by the time the child is two or three years old. However, depression or anxiety may not manifest until much later. It is important to maintain good communication with your child’s pediatrician to identify problems as early as possible.

There are a number of psychologists who specialize in treating children who have had difficult births. In addition, a growing body of medical research helps parents and doctors understand the potential long-term effects of birth injury. Do your research and take advantage of all the resources at your disposal to help curb the long-term effects of birth trauma on your child.

Consider Seeking Legal Help

If you believe your child’s emotional or mental well being was seriously damaged as the result of a birth injury it is important to be aware of your legal rights. Preventable birth injuries can be devastating. It is only fair to hold the responsible parties accountable and to seek fair and just compensation, which can go along way toward your child’s treatment. Contact McGehee ☆ Chang, Barnes, Landgraf; we can help.