The Lifelong Effects of Perinatal Hypoxia
Dr. Janov has written extensively about the effects of hypoxia, or oxygen deficit, during birth. The UCLA Pulmonary Laboratory experiment in particular showed that hypoxia, with its full-blown physiological manifestations, can be relived during birth primals. 
Anoxia or asphyxia during birth has long been known to cause fetal brain injury, the most serious being hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, or HIE.  Up to three quarters of infants with severe HIE die of multiple organ failure or lung infections caused by dysregulated breathing. Those who survive are commonly left with gross symptoms such as mental retardation, epilepsy, and cerebral palsy. Others may exhibit learning difficulties in later life. These are the most serious effects of hypoxia – a sledge hammer to the brain. What about the more subtle effects? What does perinatal hypoxia do to our later emotional life? And what about hypoxia in the womb, caused by maternal smoking, stress, or other causes?
A mountain of evidence reveals that pre and perinatal hypoxia creates a significant, lifelong imprint on our mental/emotional life. Petr Bob of Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic, has documented dozens of clinical and animal studies on the many sequelae of in uterohypoxia, including Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), schizophrenia, autism, and perhaps even Alzheimer’s disease.  Dr. Bob has observed epilepsy-like symptoms in depressed adults with early trauma, including sudden memory gaps, confusion spells, periodic irritability, jamais vu, hallucinations, and many more. He notes that traumatic insults early in life can induce a hyperexcitable state linked to a lowered seizure threshold, so these symptoms may all be manifestations of subtle and not-so-subtle brain damage caused by low levels of oxygen before and during birth.
The earlier the hypoxia, the more serious the outcome. Insufficient oxygen during early gestation retards fetal growth, resulting in a baby with low birth weight. The list of problems associated with low birth weight is long and includes depression, anxiety, phobias, suicidal ideation [4,5,6], shyness,  and a host of health problems, including cardiovascular disease  diabetes , and hypertension. [8, 10]
Although much of the damage caused by early life hypoxia is probably permanent, the UCLA experiment suggests that it might be resolvable to a certain degree. Some primal patients report resolution of their epilepsy, mood disorders, and other deeply rooted symptoms after many birth primals. It is interesting to speculate that the reliving of first-line hypoxia may resolve a chronic subclinical hypoxia that is sustained by the imprint. More research similar to the UCLA experiment should be able to answer this question.
- The UCLA Experiment. Janov’s Reflections on the Human Condition. Friday, August 15, 2008; arthurjanov.com
- Tonse NK Raju, MD, DCH. Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy eMedicine.com
- Bob P. Perinatal hypoxia and brain disorders. Neurol Psychiat Brain Res.2004;11:77-82.
- Whitfield MF, Grunau RE. Teenagers born at extremely low birth weight. Paediatr Child Health. 2006;11(5):275-7.
- Räikkönen K, et al. Depression in young adults with very low birth weight: the Helsinki study of very low-birth-weight adults. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2008;65(3):290-6.
- Nomura Y, et al. Low birth weight and risk of affective disorders and selected medical illness in offspring at high and low risk for depression. Compr Psychiatry. 2007;48(5):470-8.
- Schmidt LA, et al. Shyness and timidity in young adults who were born at extremely low birth weight. Pediatrics. 2008;122(1):e181-7.
- Evensen KA, et al. Effects of preterm birth and fetal growth retardation on cardiovascular risk factors in young adulthood. Early Hum Dev. 2008 Nov 12. [Epub ahead of print].
- Kaijser M, et al. Perinatal Risk Factors for Diabetes in Later Life. Diabetes. 2008 Dec 9. [Epub ahead of print]
- Lenfant C. Low birth weight and blood pressure. Metabolism. 2008;57 Suppl 2:S32-5.