International Prenatal Infection Prevention Month | Promoting Awareness of Maternal Infection and Birth Injury
Every February, Group B Strep International (GBSI) sponsors and organizes International Prenatal Infection Prevention Month. The awareness observance, which is recognized by and listed in the National Health Observance Calendar, is dedicated to promoting international awareness and prevention of infections that can be passed from mother to child during the prenatal and neonatal periods. This month, thousands of supporters are participating in awareness events and spreading important information in hopes of lowering instances of maternal infection and birth injury.
In honor of International Prenatal Infection Prevention Month, the birth injury team at Reiter & Walsh ABC Law Centers is taking the opportunity to share a brief overview of the various infections that, left untreated or mismanaged, can cause dangerous and permanent birth injuries. Additionally, we’ll go on to explain which medical mistakes surrounding care for maternal infection constitute medical malpractice. Should you have any legal questions of case inquiries as you read through the page’s material, we encourage you to reach out to our legal team here.
Maternal infections are infections in a pregnant woman that can transmit through the bloodstream, placenta or birth canal during pregnancy, labor, and delivery. Left undiagnosed, mismanaged or untreated, maternal infections can result in severe, permanent disabilities and injuries in a fetus or newborn baby.
- Group B Streptococcus (GBS): GBS, a common bacterium found in the female intestines and genital tract, is present in roughly 1 in 4 pregnant women. Although it is often harmless to the mother, GBS can cause injury, infection, and death in a fetus or newborn. GBS is treatable with antibiotics. Birth injuries and complications associated with untreated GBS include premature birth, seizures, brain damage, cerebral palsy, meningitis, sepsis, intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and more. To learn more about GBS and birth injury, visit this page.
- Chorioamnionitis: Also known as intra-amniotic infection, chorioamnionitis is a maternal infection characterized by an ascending infection or inflammation of the fetal membranes. It is most commonly the result of another untreated maternal infection. Complications and birth injuries associated with chorioamnionitis include premature rupture of membranes (PROM), preterm birth, sepsis, meningitis, and villitis. To learn more about chorioamnionitis and birth injury, visit this page.
- Villitis: Villitis is the inflammation of the placenta’s chorionic villi surface. Chorionic villi develop to maximize surface area contact with maternal blood for nutrient and gas exchange with fetal blood. Complications and birth injuries associated with villitis include intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR), premature rupture of membranes (PROM) and preterm birth, meningitis, brain damage (including cerebral palsy and periventricular leukomalacia), sepsis, fetal death and more. To learn more about villitis and birth injury, visit this page.
- Urinary Tract Infection (UTI): An infection of any of the body’s urinary systems, which include the kidneys, bladder, ureters, and urethra. Untreated UTIs can cause dangerous and permanent birth injuries and obstetrical complications including intrauterine infection, premature birth, infant brain damage and neonatal infection. Birth injuries and complications associated with untreated urinary tract infections include intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR), low birth weight, premature birth, premature rupture of membranes (PROM), cerebral palsy, chorioamnionitis, preeclampsia, anemia and fetal death. To learn more about urinary tract infections and birth injury, visit this page.
- Bacterial Vaginosis (BV): Bacterial vaginosis is a common bacterial infection of the vagina resulting from an imbalance of a woman’s naturally occurring bacteria. 1 in 4 women experience BV during pregnancy, and many experience recurring infections. Gardnerella vaginalis is a bacterium associated with BV. Without treatment, this bacterium can cause premature birth, premature rupture of the membranes (PROM) and miscarriage with resultant cerebral palsy, fetal death, infant brain damage and related injuries. To learn more about bacterial vaginosis and birth injury, visit this page.
Treatment and Prevention of Maternal Infection and Birth Injury
Each maternal infection has unique prevention, diagnostic and treatment protocols. According to standards of care, medical professionals are obligated to provide all medical services necessary to prevent, detect, diagnose, manage and treat maternal infections. When infection is present, prompt diagnosis and treatment is a critical part of preventing permanent, dangerous birth injuries.
Medical Malpractice, Maternal Infections and Birth Injury
When a medical professional deviates from the standard of care in any way that harms the mother or baby, it is medical malpractice. The following scenarios related to medical care for maternal infections are some of the many instances considered to be medical malpractice:
- Failure to diagnose a maternal infection
- Failure to accurately recognize and monitor the presence of a cause or risk factor for a given maternal infection, thereby failing to prevent infection
- Failure to closely monitor both the mother and baby when an infection is, was, or may be present
- Failure to treat a maternal infection with medication, a procedure or another treatment
- Failure to induce labor, order a C-section, deliver the baby at the appropriate time or perform an emergency C-section in a timely manner when the presence of a maternal infection deems it necessary
- Failure to obtain informed consent when necessary, including advising the mother of the risks and alternative delivery options
- Failure to perform antibiotic susceptibility testing when necessary, as well as the failure to monitor the effects of a chosen antibiotic regimen
- Use of antibiotics that are harmful to the mother or fetus
- Failure to perform a recurrence test after a given infection is treated
Legal Help for Mismanaged Maternal Infections and Birth Injury
Detroit, Michigan Birth Injury Attorneys
As part of International Prenatal Infection Prevention Month, the birth injury attorneys at Reiter & Walsh, P.C. urge you to continue educating yourself on birth injury, maternal infection and medical malpractice. Should you have any legal questions or case inquiries, please reach out to our Detroit, Michigan birth injury law firm in whichever way best suits your needs:
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