Birth Injury Lawyers Helping Children Affected by Premature Birth or Mismanaged Twin Pregnancy
A normal pregnancy lasts about nine months, or between 38 and 42 weeks. A premature birth occurs when an infant is born before reaching 39 weeks. Infants that are born prematurely are at a higher risk for birth injuries because they are not yet fully developed and may have a low birth weight. The earlier a child is born, the higher the risk. Most premature birth infants have underdeveloped immune systems, making them prone to infection, including sepsis. It is also common for premature infants to be born with underdeveloped lungs. These infants typically have trouble breathing and may require a ventilator. However, if the infant requires a high level of oxygen through the ventilator, he or she may be at an additional risk for developing vision problems or blindness. Other complications that premature birth infants may face include an inability to control sugar and salt levels in their bloodstream, resulting in anemia. Brain bleeds may also occur and can cause brain damage and cerebral palsy. In addition to these physical challenges, studies have shown that low birth weight infants may be more likely to suffer from intellectual disabilities and they may have trouble learning in school. In order to avoid these complications and the chance of a birth injury occurring, the medical staff should attempt to prolong pregnancy until the baby has made it to – or very near to – full term, giving the infant more time to develop. Sometimes it is not possible to delay the delivery of a child. However, if the physician does not make an effort to prolong the pregnancy and the baby is born prematurely and suffers from a birth injury, the physician or medical staff may be held liable for not taking proper action.
Causes of Premature Birth
There are several circumstances that may contribute to premature birth, including medical conditions such as a ruptured amniotic sac, infection, weak cervix, kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, uterine abnormalities, a previous premature delivery, pregnancy involving more than one fetus, substance abuse, malnutrition, or chronic diseases like high blood pressure or diabetes. Sometimes, however, the cause of premature birth is unknown. If a medical condition was discovered but not properly treated, and the infant was born prematurely as a result and suffered a birth injury, you may be entitled to compensation. Identifying risk factors for premature birth early in pregnancy provides an opportunity for intervention to prevent an early delivery, although many women with no risk factors give birth to premature babies. Listed below are risk factors for premature birth.
- History of preterm birth, either with twins or a single baby. History is the strongest risk factor for premature birth of a single baby or twins.
- History of abortion. This includes abortion induced by medical intervention as well as spontaneous abortion.
- A short interpregnancy interval. The sooner a mother becomes pregnant after a previous pregnancy, the higher the risk of preterm delivery.
- Assisted reproduction. Pregnancies conceived with assisted reproductive technology, such as in-vitro fertilization, are at a higher risk of preterm delivery.
- Being pregnant with twins, triplets or more.
- Vaginal bleeding caused by partial shedding of the uterine lining in early pregnancy (decidual hemorrhage).
- Infection. This includes chorioamnionitis, which is inflammation of the placenta and fetal membranes caused by infections in the mother, such as Group B strep (GBS), urinary tract infection (UTI), bacterial vaginosis (BV), and E coli. Even if maternal infections don’t cause chorioamnionitis, they are still risk factors for preterm delivery. Having a short cervix is an independent risk factor for both infection and premature birth.
- African American race.
- Low or high maternal age.
- High blood pressure during pregnancy / preeclampsia.
- Conditions that may have been undiagnosed, therefore requiring an emergent delivery, such as placental abruption and uterine rupture.
Premature Birth, Twins and Multiple Births
Those pregnant with two or more fetuses are often at a higher risk for having a premature birth. While most infants born after 24 weeks survive, infants that are born earlier than 32 weeks and weigh less than three and a half pounds are at a substantially greater risk of infection or permanent disabilities such as cerebral palsy. Even multiple birth infants that are carried closer to full term are typically smaller than single birth babies, which is likely due to the fetal growth restriction. These low birth weight babies often have health problems and may require more care. While there is a high risk of premature birth for twins, triplets, and other multiples, identical twins face an additional risk of developing a serious complication known as twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome. This condition may occur if the blood vessels of the two fetuses are connected and one fetus gets more blood flow than the other from the shared placenta. There are treatments available for twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome, which include the use of amniocentesis to drain the excess fluid, or laser surgery to seal off the connection between the blood vessels. However, without prompt treatment, a birth injury may result, or in severe cases, both fetuses may die.
Birth Injuries caused by Premature Birth and/or Mismanaged Twin Pregnancy
Conditions that can occur when preterm birth isn’t prevented or when premature babies or twins have mismanaged medical care include the following:
- Intraventricular hemorrhages (IVH – brain bleeds)
- Periventricular leukomalacia. Although PVL can occur in term infants, it is most frequently found in premature babies.
- Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy. HIE usually occurs in term infants, but sometimes premature babies can develop HIE. HIE usually involves damage to the basal ganglia, cerebral cortex and watershed regions of the brain, but sometimes also includes PVL.
- Neonatal encephalopathy
- Permanent brain damage
- Seizure disorders
- Cerebral palsy (CP)
- Intellectual disabilities
- Developmental delays
- Motor disorders
Legal Help for Mismanaged Twin Pregnancy and Premature Birth Injuries
If you went into preterm labor and your physician did not try to prolong the pregnancy, or if unnecessary complications arose resulting in injury, you may be eligible for compensation. The award-winning birth injury lawyers at Reiter & Walsh ABC Law Centers have helped dozens of children affected by hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), periventricular leukomalacia (PVL) and cerebral palsy.
Reiter & Walsh ABC Law Centers is a national birth injury law firm that has been helping children since its inception in 1997. While our team is based in Michigan, we handle cases all over the United States. Many of our clients have hailed from Michigan, Ohio, Washington D.C., Arkansas, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin and other states. The Reiter & Walsh, P.C. birth trauma team has also handled FTCA cases involving military medical malpractice and federally funded clinics.
Contact Reiter & Walsh ABC Law Centers to begin your free case evaluation. Our award-winning birth trauma lawyers are available 24/7 to speak with you.
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Video: Birth Injury Lawyers Discuss Premature Birth, Twin Pregnancies & Birth Injuries
Watch a video of birth injury lawyer Jesse Reiter discussing premature birth, twin and multiples pregnancies, and how medical mismanagement can cause birth injuries such as cerebral palsy.
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