Detroit is fighting many battles these days, but perhaps the most important one is its fight for healthy babies and birth injury prevention. Every year, more than half a million babies are born prematurely. In Detroit, 18% of all newborns are premature. This is 6 times higher than the average for the state of Michigan. Almost all premature babies have a low birth weight, and of the infants that pass away shortly after birth, the cause is low birth weight in 50% of these babies.
Premature birth is one of the leading causes of neurological disability such as cerebral palsy, which is frequently caused by a lack of oxygen in the baby’s brain, hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) and periventricular leukomalacia (PVL). Sometimes the oxygen deprivation occurs when an event during labor and delivery is mismanaged by doctors and/or the doctors do not deliver the baby quickly enough when she is in distress. Other times, the baby’s breathing is not properly managed after birth, causing the baby to suffer problems such as long term oxygen deprivation and low heart rates.
Premature babies are at a high risk of having breathing and other problems after birth, which is why it is very important for doctors to closely monitor a woman through pregnancy and do everything possible to prevent a baby from being born prematurely. A developing baby experiences very important growth during the final months and weeks of pregnancy. Organs such as the lungs, brain and liver need the last weeks of pregnancy to mature. Premature birth places a baby at a higher risk of developing breathing problems, feeding difficulties, vision and hearing problems, developmental delays, cerebral palsy, hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy and periventricular leukomalacia (PVL).
The mayor of Detroit, Mike Duggan, has partnered with St. John, Henry Ford, and Detroit Medical Center (DMC) Health Systems to launch a premature birth prevention program called “Make Your Date.” Make Your Date offers support and medical services for expectant mothers in need. It gives mothers access to premature birth prevention classes and regular ultrasounds. There is a phone number for all expecting mothers to call so they can get the best care possible for their babies.
Mayor Duggan’s Make Your Date program has gotten these Detroit hospitals to have a single approach to premature birth prevention and prenatal care. Duggan feels that this program is very special and he is working to make it as successful as possible for every pregnant mother.
Cerebral palsy is the biggest cause of motor (muscle and movement) disability in children. Preventing premature birth is a big step towards preventing this devastating condition.
What Causes Premature Birth?
Some women are more likely than others to go into preterm labor. Risk factors for premature birth include the following:
- High blood pressure during pregnancy and preeclampsia
- Infection in the mother, such as herpes simplex virus (HSV), chorioamnionitis or villitis, bacterial vaginosis (BV) and a urinary tract infection (UTI) which can cause premature rupture of the membranes (PROM)
- The mother has an incompetent/insufficient cervix
- Prior preterm birth
- Carrying more than one baby (twins, triplets or more)
- Late prenatal care
- Low or high maternal age
- The mother is black
- The mother uses tobacco or alcohol or has a substance abuse problem
- Mothers who used in-vitro fertilization or artificial reproductive technology are at an increased risk of having preterm labor
Doctors need to pay attention to these risk factors in their patients. When a mother is at risk of going into preterm labor, the doctor must monitor her and the baby more closely and make efforts to prevent premature birth.
What Can Be Done To Prevent Premature Birth?
A doctor must take a thorough history of the mother and she should discuss ways for the mother to reduce the chances of having a premature baby. If applicable, mothers should be counseled to quit smoking, avoid alcohol and illicit drugs and attend every prenatal appointment. The mother should also seek immediate medical attention when there are any warning signs or symptoms of preterm labor.
Mothers should be closely monitored for any signs of infection. It is the standard of care to test all pregnant women for urinary tract infections, and some doctors test all their pregnant patients for bacterial vaginosis. It is the standard of care to do a test for bacterial vaginosis on all pregnant women who have had preterm labor.
Pregnant women should have their cervixes measured at weeks 19-24. If a cervix is short or the doctor determines that the cervix is insufficient or incompetent, progesterone treatments and cervical cerclages (a stitch or stitches to help reinforce the cervix) should be considered. If a mother has a history of preterm birth, the mother should have an ultrasound performed at least every 2 weeks from week 15 of pregnancy through weeks 24-26.
What Are The Warning Signs Of Preterm Labor?
Just like regular labor signs, the signs of preterm labor include the following:
- Change in vaginal discharge (fluid leaking or bleeding from the vagina)
- Contractions (the abdomen tightens every 10 minutes or more
- A low, dull backache
- Pelvic pressure/a feeling that the baby is pushing down
- Cramps such as those experienced during a menstrual period
- Abdominal cramps
What Can Be Done To Prevent Premature Birth, HIE, And Cerebral Palsy?
If you think you’re having preterm labor, you should go to the hospital right away. Make sure your doctor does appropriate ultrasounds and attaches you and your baby to a fetal heart rate monitor so that the health of your baby is closely watched. Ask if the hospital has the ability to quickly perform a cesarean (C-section) delivery if your baby has a non-reassuring heart rate, meaning she is experiencing a lack of oxygen. It is important, of course, to prevent premature birth so the baby’s organs can fully develop.
If doctors think there is a possibility that the baby will be born prematurely, a drug called magnesium sulfate can be given to you within 24 hours of the expected delivery. The medication typically is administered when the baby is between 24 and 32 weeks of gestation. Magnesium sulfate should be administered to mothers with preterm premature rupture of membranes (PPROM), preterm labor with intact membranes, or indicated preterm delivery.
Detroit Phone Number For Premature Birth Prevention/Make Your Date Campaign
Detroit mothers who are expecting can call 313-577-1000 to be enrolled in the Make Your Date Campaign for prevention of premature birth. Preventing preterm birth helps reduce the risk of a baby developing serious conditions such as hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), periventricular leukomalacia (PVL) and cerebral palsy.
Detroit Cerebral Palsy Lawyer Helping Children With Birth Inuries, Cerebral Palsy, And Hypoxic Ischemic Enephalopathy (HIE)
The award winning lawyers at Reiter & Walsh ABC Law Centers have been helping children with cerebral palsy in Detroit and throughout the nation for over two decades. Jesse Reiter, the firm’s president, has been focusing on birth injury cases his entire 25+ year career, and most of Jesse’s cases involve helping children who have cerebral palsy and hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). When Jesse and his team of lawyers take a case, they spend a lot of time getting to know the child and family they are helping so they can fully understand the child’s needs.
Jesse has won many awards for his advocacy of children, and he is currently recognized as being one of the best medical malpractice lawyers in America by U.S. News and World Report 2014, as well as one of the 10 Best Attorneys in Michigan by Super Lawyers magazine. Reiter & Walsh ABC Law Centers is also recognized as being one of the best medical malpractice law firms in the country by U.S. News and World Report 2014.
To determine if you are eligible for compensation, contact our Detroit lawyers handling preterm birth, birth injury, HIE and cerebral palsy cases in Michigan, Ohio, Washington, D.C. and throughout the nation. At Reiter & Walsh ABC Law Centers, we understand the complex legal issues involved with preterm birth and will help you obtain the compensation to which you are entitled. We have numerous multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements that attest to our success, and no fees are ever paid to our firm until we win your case. Email or call us at 888-419-2229.