Polyhydramnios is a condition that affects pregnant women. Essentially, it’s an excessive accumulation of amniotic fluid, which is the liquid that surrounds the baby in the uterus. This condition occurs in about one to two percent of pregnancies. The severity of polyhydramnios varies from mild cases that only require monitoring and may go away on their own, to severe cases, which require treatment and may cause complications to mother and baby. When these cases are not diagnosed and treated promptly, it may be considered medical negligence, and a medical professional may be found to be at fault.
What Are the Symptoms of Polyhydramnios to Look for?
The symptoms of polyhydramnios usually result from the extra pressure inside the uterus and on surrounding organs of the mother. With mild cases, there may be few (if any) symptoms. With severe cases, symptoms to look for include:
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Swelling in the abdominal wall and lower extremities
- Uterine discomfort
- Preterm contractions
- Abnormal position of the baby (such as breech presentation)
Doctors may also suspect polyhydramnios if the uterus is larger than it should be based on the age of the pregnancy or if he or she has difficulty feeling the baby.
What Causes Polyhydramnios?
Like many conditions that affect pregnant women, the causes of polyhydramnios often can’t be identified. Moreover, it can have multiple causes. Most of the amniotic fluid comes from the mother during the first half of the pregnancy, while it comes from the baby’s urine during the second half. Polyhydramnios is frequently caused by conditions that cause the baby to produce larger amounts of urine than normal.
Common causes of polyhydramnios include:
- Mother’s cardiac or kidney problems
- Maternal diabetes
- Multiple pregnancy
- Rh incompatibility
- Infections in the uterus
- Gastrointestinal abnormalities
- Neurological issues, including anencephaly
- Chromosomal abnormalities (Down’s syndrome and Edwards syndrome)
- Baby’s renal disorder that causes more urine production
When an expectant mother shows any signs or symptoms of polyhydramnios, it’s crucial that her condition is investigated promptly. When it is diagnosed early, polyhydramnios is often easily treated with no serious or long-term complications. Problems arise when the condition isn’t promptly diagnosed and treated. When that happens, complications can affect the baby.
Complications Associated with Polyhydramnios
There are many complications of polyhydramnios that can affect the baby if the condition isn’t treated promptly and properly. Some of those include:
- Preterm labor – In most cases, polyhydramnios causes preterm labor and premature delivery, which is defined as birth before 37 weeks of gestation.
- Premature membrane rupture – Because of the added pressure of amniotic fluid, there is frequently a premature breaking of the membranes. That means the mother’s water breaks too early.
- Prolapsed umbilical cord – A prolapsed umbilical cord happens when the umbilical cord precedes the baby through the birth canal. This is a very common complication of polyhydramnios.
- Placental abruption – When there is a placental abruption, the placenta separates (partially or completely) from the inner uterine wall. This can be a very serious complication that affects both mother and child.
- Birth defects – Polyhydramnios can cause severe birth defects. Two of the most common are Down’s syndrome and cleft palate.
- Malposition of the baby – Polyhydramnios can cause the baby to become wrongly positioned for delivery. Because there is more amniotic fluid and the baby has more room to move it may lie in an atypical position (for example, a breech presentation). This may result in the need for a C-section and the complications associated with the procedure.
- Excessive fetal growth – Another common complication that may necessitate a C-section delivery is excessive growth of the baby. When the baby is too big to fit through the birth canal, a C-section may be the only option.
When Undiagnosed Polyhydramnios Causes Birth Injuries
When birth injuries occur to babies due to undiagnosed (or to a delayed diagnosis) polyhydramnios, it can result in significant losses for parents and family. Some of those losses include:
- Financial burdens resulting from medical expenses incurred to treat birth injuries that were preventable
- Long-term medical conditions for the baby who suffered birth injuries
- Pain and suffering for parents and baby
- Wrongful death in the worst situations
Proving negligence in polyhydramnios cases can be complicated and it requires the extensive legal and medical knowledge of expert attorneys and doctors. If you or your child has suffered injuries due to the complications associated with polyhydramnios, you may be entitled to a financial recovery for your financial and emotional damages through a polyhydramnios lawsuit.
At Ross Feller Casey, we have experienced birth injury attorneys and medical doctors on staff to review your case, and an unmatched, winning track record with these types of cases. Please contact us to schedule your appointment for a free evaluation of your case.