Nancy Gauthier

Nancy Gauthier

Keene State College

Psychology / Sociology


Mentor: Grant Cioffi, Associate Professor, Education

Hypoxia/Anoxia in Infants: Medical Causes, Effects, and Intervention

Hypoxia/anoxia results from a decrease or stopped blood flow, affecting the oxygen supply to the brain. The effect is necrosis of brain tissue. The repercussions of hypoxia/anoxia come from different causes such as near-drowning, suffocation, viral infections, and others. Children who survive incidences of hypoxia/anoxia are frequently left with neurological disorders. These factors affect the same general area of the brain with borderline differences in lesion size and location. The problems that arise span from learning disabilities, behavioral and emotional problems, to mental retardation. These disorders range from mild to severe. The purpose of this research was to investigate through thorough literary review preventive measures that can minimize the destruction of brain damage resulting from hypoxic/anoxic episodes in infancy.

The available evidence suggest that hypoxia/anoxia alone does not lead to brain damage, but rather a combination of hypoxia-ischemia or isolated cerebral ischemia (specific) is a necessary prerequisite for tissue injury to occur. Evidence also suggest that selective vulnerability represents the principle (pathological) instrument underlying the creation of hypoxic/anoxic brain lesions. Under different circumstances all the factors may contribute to the pattern of brain damage observed in patients who have experienced an hypoxic/anoxic episode (Murdoch, 1989). While different mechanisms have been identified as responsible for the damage, any infant may suffer the consequences of the interaction and cumulative effects of the above mentioned causal factors.

The available results from this review of experimental research, on rats and piglets, suggest that the brain damage can be minimized or possibly avoided by preventive measures such as, changes in resuscitation protocol and the use of alternate medical procedures.

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