If a baby is born blue, it often means that the blood that carries oxygen throughout their body isn’t circulating properly. In turn, that means that the oxygen their brain and organs need may not be getting to their tissues in sufficient quantities. While each case can vary, one of the things we’ve seen in our cases is that babies that are born blue can suffer oxygen deprivation to the brain – a diagnosis known as hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, or HIE. Sometimes the diagnosis is also known as ‘birth asphyxia’ or ‘intrapartum asphyxia.’
Babies that are born blue will very likely have low Apgar scores. Apgar scores quickly measure a baby’s overall health within the first minutes of life. These measurements help indicate if a baby will likely need medical intervention after birth, but they aren’t designed to tell us about long-term prognoses. If a baby has low Apgar scores, however, they are more likely to have suffered a hypoxic-ischemic event. Babies with HIE should be given brain cooling (officially known as “hypothermia therapy“), which can decrease the severity of oxygen deprivation-related disabilities.
Next Steps: Treatment for Neonatal Oxygen Deprivation
Babies that are born blue must be promptly and carefully evaluated by a medical professional, who can recommend interventions to help make sure the baby will be healthy. If the baby is born blue and is also not crying, not breathing, limp, floppy or pale, they need immediate medical intervention because oxygen deprivation has effects on brain function.
Related Reading on Fetal Oxygen Deprivation
To learn more about the impact a baby’s color and movement at birth has on the likelihood of having disability, please see the following links:
- APGAR Scores: What do they mean?
- What’s a Normal APGAR Score?
- The Effects of Birth Asphyxia
- Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE)
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