A high-risk pregnancy is a pregnancy involving any potential complications that could harm the mother and/or baby. Certain factors that make pregnancies high-risk include (1):
- Maternal age under 20 or over 35
- Maternal medical conditions (such as gestational diabetes, maternal hypertension, preeclampsia, obesity, and infection)
- Fetal conditions
- Multiples (twins, triplets, etc.)
- A history of obstetrical complications.
In addition to potentially endangering the mother, high-risk pregnancies increase a baby’s risk for experiencing birth injuries and birth trauma. Medical professionals are obligated to follow standard of care to properly manage high-risk pregnancies and prevent harm.
Why is it so important to identify high-risk pregnancies?
William Callaghan, CDC chief for maternal and child health, emphasized the urgent need to address the issue of maternal complications, because “when things go wrong, they can go south very fast” (2). It is very important that physicians identify factors that can cause a woman’s pregnancy to be high-risk. High-risk pregnancies require more prenatal testing and closer monitoring than those that are not high-risk, and high-risk mothers should be referred to maternal-fetal specialists.
How is high-risk pregnancy treated?
In addition to carefully monitoring a mother and baby during a high-risk pregnancy and providing proper treatment when necessary, the physician must implement a regimen of fetal surveillance to determine what effects the high-risk conditions may have on the baby. Surveillance and testing should include weekly non-stress tests, biophysical profiles, and ultrasound examinations to assess the level of amniotic fluid and to determine if the baby is growing normally. Failure to do this, or to intervene when the mother or baby is in danger, is negligence. If this negligence results in harm, it constitutes medical malpractice.
Trusted birth injury attorneys
Birth injury is a difficult area of malpractice law to pursue due to the complex nature of the medical records. The award-winning birth injury attorneys at ABC Law Centers (Reiter & Walsh, P.C.) have decades of joint experience with birth injury, hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), and cerebral palsy (CP) cases, many of which have involved mismanagement of high-risk pregnancies. To find out if you have a case, contact our firm to speak with one of our lawyers. We have numerous multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements that attest to our success, and no fees are ever paid to our firm unless we win your case. We give personal attention to each child and family we help, and are available 24/7 to speak with you.
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- “High-Risk Pregnancy: Trusted Birth Injury Attorneys.” Michigan Birth Injury & HIE Attorneys, www.abclawcenters.com/practice-areas/prenatal-birth-injuries/maternal-medical-conditions/high-risk-pregnancy/.
- Stodd R. T. (2013). The Weathervane. Hawai’i Journal of Medicine & Public Health, 72(2), 70.