Human error is the most
common cause of infant asphyxiation at birth, according to a new Norwegian
Birth asphyxia occurs when
a baby doesn't receive enough oxygen before, during or immediately after birth.
It can lead to brain damage and death.
In this study, researchers
looked at 161 compensation claims for birth asphyxia made in Norway between
1994 and 2008. In those cases, 54 infants died and 107 survived, including 96
who suffered brain damage.
Human error was the most
common cause of birth asphyxia. Half of the cases were due to inadequate foetal
monitoring, 14% were due to lack of clinical knowledge, 11% were due to failure
to follow clinical guidelines, 10% were due to failure to ask for senior medical
staff assistance and 4% were due to errors in drug administration.
In cases where there was
substandard care, the obstetrician and midwife were identified as the responsible
staff 49% and 46% of the time, respectively, according to the study, which was
published recently in the journal Acta Obstetricia et Gynaecological
"In most compensated
cases, poor foetal monitoring led to an inadequate supply of oxygen to the
infant," study author Dr Stine Andreasen, of department of obstetrics and gynaecology
at Nordland Hospital in Bodo, Norway, said in a journal news release.
"Training for midwives
and obstetricians, along with high-quality audits, could help to reduce claims
for compensation after birth asphyxia," Andreasen said.
The University of
California, San Francisco, Children's Hospital has more about birth asphyxia.