Study Links High Acidosis at Birth with Cerebral Palsy

Thursday, February 1, 2018
Cerebral Palsy

Oxygen deprivation, or hypoxia, during delivery is a well-known cause for brain damage in infants that can lead to disorders like cerebral palsy. It is also known that low pH levels (high body acid) at birth can lead to complications including brain damage and CP.

A new study, however, aims to provide more explanation as to the relationship between these birth complications and the resulting injuries.


PH and Alkalinity Scale

The body’s pH level is an overall measure of the balance between acidity and alkalinity in body fluids. It ranges from 0 to 14, with lower pH values considered acidic and those in the upper range more basic, or alkaline.

Water, which is considered neutral, has a pH of 7, while blood normally has a pH ranging from 7.35 to 7.45. Our stomach, on the other hand, which needs high acid levels to break down food, has a pH of around 3.5.

While our bodies work to keep acid levels in balance, too much of it can overstress our systems and lead to disease.


Acidity and Its relation to Cerebral Palsy

The study was conducted in large part by researchers from the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom, with results published in the December edition of the British Medical Journal.

Doctors followed 506 infants out of a total population of 56,574 born between 2005 and 2013.

Of these, 504 had high blood acidosis at birth, with umbilical cord blood pH levels below 7. In this group, 223 of the infants also had low base measures, which means a lack of the alkalines needed to balance the high acidity.

The results showed 66 of the infants with high acidosis were diagnosed with brain injury. Three of these died at the time of delivery and 21 passed away soon after. Of the 42 that survived, 15 were later diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

Study data also showed that the more acidity in the infants, the higher the risk. Of those with pH between 6.9 – 6.99, the risk of cerebral palsy or death was 3%. In those with pH from 6.8 to 6.89, the risk was 10%. And in those with pH below 6.8, the risk of CP or death was 40%.


Cerebral Palsy from Medical Mistakes

High acidity, while not the root cause of oxygen deprivation, can be an early sign that it has occurred. This results when a lack of oxygen causes a drop in the pH levels of blood in the umbilical cord.

Sadly, around 10,000 babies each year suffer brain injury that results in cerebral palsy, and experts estimate that as many as 2,000 of these cases are due to mistakes by doctors or hospital staff.

Some of the more common causes of brain injury/cerebral palsy that can be attributed to mistakes include:

  • Delayed birth
  • Infant trauma by doctors or delivery tools
  • Delayed c-section
  • Severe jaundice
  • Infant lead poisoning
  • Radiation
  • Overdose of delivery drugs
  • Infant infection
  • Meconium in the infant’s lungs
  • Low fetal blood sugar

In these tragic cases, the families of those children who suffer brain injury have the right to seek significant compensation through a cerebral palsy lawsuit that can help with their care and well being for decades to come.

If your child has been affected, it is important to speak with a lawyer about your legal rights, Contact us today to talk directly with a lawyer at no cost.



Kelly, R, et al. Dose-dependent relationship between acidosis at birth and likelihood of death or cerebral palsy. BMJ. (December 8, 2017). Retrieved from

Malhas, A. Acidosis at birth is associated with cerebral palsy. Cerebral Palsy News Today. (December 22, 2017). Retrieved from


Cerebral Palsy
High Acidosis
at Birth

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