Asphyxia


Asphyxia occurs when there is a lack of oxygen reaching your baby’s brain and other organs. This can occur before, during or after birth. There can be several causes of asphyxia, including, but not limited to, the following: 

  • Low blood pressure in the mother

  • Pressure from the umbilical cord, which reduces blood flow in your baby

  • Long and complicated delivery

  • Infection (either in the mother or the baby)

  • Baby’s airways being blocked or not formed properly

  • Anaemia, which causes too little oxygen to reach the baby​

​Symptoms of asphyxia may differ in infants, but following are some of the common ones:

  • Abnormal heart rate

  • Bluish skin colour

  • Seizures

  • Poor reflexes 

  • Too much acid in the blood

  • Little or no urine production

  • Lethargy​​

​If your baby is experiencing any of the above symptoms at birth, our expert doctors and nurses will check your baby's condition carefully and deal with the situation immediately. Your baby will be taken to NICU (Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit) if needed for further evaluation and treatment.

Your time with your doctor may be limited, so make sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. Here​ are some tips to help get you started.

At birth, doctors and nurses working with the Children’s Hospital Services at The  Aga Khan University Hospital will check your baby's condition carefully and assign a rating (called the Apgar score) from 0 to 10. This score is based on skin colour, heart rate, muscle tone, reflexes and breathing.

A very low Apgar score (from 0 to 3) which lasts for longer than 5 minutes indicates that your baby may be suffering from birth asphyxia.

It is critical to get treatment for asphyxia right away to restore oxygen supply and blood circulation.

If your baby is suffering from mild asphyxia, he/she can be given some form of breathing support until they can breathe on their own. They will still be closely monitored for relapses.
If the asphyxia is more severe, your baby may need to be placed on a ventilator or other form of breathing aid in the form of respiratory therapy, fluid and medicine to control blood pressure and prevent seizures.

There are also advanced treatment options available which are mechanical ventilation procedures or medicines that help blood vessels in the lungs to open up and carry oxygen to the body.

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers various support services to help with managing or recovering from the disease or condition. These include but are not limited to nutrition, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, specialized clinics and some patient support groups. Your doctor or nurse will advise you accordingly.

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers financial assistance to those who are in need and fulfil the eligibility criteria. For further information, you can contact the Patient Welfare Department. You can find the contact number of the Patient Welfare Department in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

The financial counselling staff is available during office hours, at the main PBSD (Patient Business Services Department), to answer your financial queries on treatments’ costs and authorize admissions on partial deposit as per hospital policies allow. The financial counsellor in the emergency room is open 24/7. You can find the contact number of the Patient Business Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

Your doctor and or nurse will give you specific instructions about the prescribed medication. Please ensure that you take or use the prescribed medicine as advised. It can be dangerous to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.




The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider. ​