Baby has oxygen cut off during delivery

PUBLISHED : Monday, 09 January, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 09 January, 2012, 12:00am


Parents are blaming doctors after an overweight baby born at Queen Elizabeth Hospital had his oxygen cut off briefly during delivery, leaving him in a serious condition in the intensive care unit.

The boy's heart stopped beating for a short time and he suffered oxygen deprivation to its brain when born last Monday. He weighed 4.37kg, well over the doctors' estimate before birth of 3.8kg.

The parents have complained to the hospital that the baby should have been delivered by a caesarean, not by natural birth as the doctors decided.

The birth was complicated when the baby's shoulder became stuck behind the mother's pelvic bone, known as shoulder dystocia.

Doctors used a suction device to aid its delivery, a hospital spokesman said yesterday.

The baby is in serious condition in intensive care.

The mother, who had pregnancy diabetes - a temporary form of diabetes that afflicts some pregnant women and usually disappears straight after delivery - was in stable condition last night.

Professor Leung Tak-yeung, an obstetrics and gynaecology professor at Chinese University, said a surgical delivery would have made sense given the unusually large size of the baby and the mother's diabetes.

An error within 10 per cent in estimating a baby's weight was acceptable, he said, as it is not possible to measure a baby's exact weight before delivery. It can only be estimated from ultrasound images.

Shoulder dystocia occurred in 5 per cent of babies that weigh 4.2kg to 4.5kg, and 10 per cent of those weighing over 4.5kg, the professor said.

When the complication occurs, the brain may be deprived of oxygen if the baby is not delivered within five minutes. A shortage of oxygen can kill some brain cells, affecting the baby's mental ability and bodily co-ordination, said Leung.

The hospital has apologised to the family and is investigating their complaint.