Birth Asphyxia

Birth asphyxia is a complex condition that can be difficult to predict or prevent. Prompt treatment is important to minimize the damaging effects of decreased oxygen to the baby.

Specific treatment for birth asphyxia is based on:

  • The baby's age, overall health and medical history
  • Severity of the baby's condition
  • The baby's tolerance for specific medications, procedures or therapies
  • Expectations for the course of the condition

Treatment may include:

  • Giving the mother extra oxygen before delivery
  • Emergency delivery or Caesarean section
  • Assisted ventilation and medications to support the baby's breathing and blood pressure
  • Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO)

Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO)

An extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machine may be used for babies who are experiencing serious heart or lung failure. The machine delivers oxygen to the baby's brain and body as temporary support. It works by draining the baby's blood into an artificial lung where oxygen is added and carbon dioxide is removed, then pumping the blood back into the child.

At UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital, we treat over 20 patients each year with ECMO and our success outcomes are among the highest in the country. Our team of experts is specially trained in ECMO and includes a neonatologist, surgeon, respiratory therapists and nurses.

In addition to ECMO, we also offer a wide range of other types of mechanical ventilation and respiratory therapy, including high frequency oscillatory ventilation and inhaled nitric oxide.

Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital.

Related Information

UCSF Clinics & Centers

Critical Care

Intensive Care Nursery
1975 Fourth St., Third Floor
San Francisco, CA 94158
Phone: (415) 353-1565
Fax: (415) 353-1202

LIFE Clinic
1825 Fourth St., Fifth Floor
San Francisco, CA 94158
Phone: (415) 476-2538
Fax: (415) 476-2929

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