Fetal Asphyxia: Its Impact on the Neonate

An Approach to Understanding and Anticipating Complications
  • Susan E. Denson


Asphyxia is a term used frequently in the neonatal period to denote an untoward event, usually occurring during labor or delivery, that results in a compromised neonate. The term comes from a Greek word meaning “a stopping of the pulse,” and although not defined in most neonatal textbooks, it is defined in Borland’s Illustrated Medical Dictionary as “a condition due to lack of oxygen in respired air, resulting in impending or actual cessation of apparent life” [1]. In utero, the organ of gas exchange that provides “respired air” is the placenta. Asphyxia, then, occurs in situations in which placental function is impaired with subsequent interference with adequate gas exchange. If the situation is not reversed, the fetus will die. When intervention does occur, a surviving neonate often has sequelae as a result of the insult and changes wrought by the fetal compensatory mechanisms.


Patent Ductus Arteriosus Pulmonary Vascular Resistance Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension Placental Function Fetal Lamb 
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© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1989

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  • Susan E. Denson

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