Airway, Breathing and Lung Conditions

Birth Asphyxia Symptoms and Diagnosis

Symptoms of Birth Asphyxia

Symptoms of asphyxia in a baby at the time of birth may include:

  • Baby is not breathing or breathing is very weak
  • Skin color is bluish or pale
  • Heart rate is low
  • Muscle tone is poor or reflexes are weak
  • Too much acid is in the blood (acidosis)
  • The amniotic fluid is stained with meconium (first stool)
  • The baby is experiencing seizures

Birth Asphyxia Diagnosis

At birth, doctors and nurses check your baby's condition carefully and give a number rating from 0 to 10. This number is called an Apgar score. The Apgar rates skin color, heart rate, muscle tone, reflexes and breathing effort. A very low Apgar score (0 to 3) lasting longer than five minutes may be a sign of birth asphyxia. A baby who has not had enough blood flow or oxygen to its body may have abnormal breathing, poor circulation, lethargy (lack of energy), lack of urine output and blood-clotting abnormalities.