When a woman is in active labor, her vital signs must be monitored closely by medical professionals. They will check for various signs that may indicate something is wrong, including any elevation in temperature. If a woman has a fever during labor, it may result in complications for her and her baby.
A body temperature that rises above normal (99.4 degrees F) while in labor is called maternal intrapartum fever. It’s also known as intrapartum maternal fever, maternal intra-partum fever, and pyrexia in labor. Some medical professionals regard maternal intrapartum fever as synonymous with chorioamnionitis, an infection of the tissue and amniotic fluid surrounding a baby in the womb. However, an elevated fever during labor can also be noninfective.
Maternal intrapartum fever happens in about one to two percent of deliveries, and it’s frequently associated with maternal and neonatal complications.
A body temperature greater than 100.4 degrees F is considered intrapartum fever, and it’s a cause for concern.
When a pregnant woman develops a fever during labor, it is often difficult for medical professionals to make a proper diagnosis because various things can cause an elevated temperature. It could be as simple as upper respiratory or urinary tract infections or as serious as chorioamnionitis. Diagnosis can be further complicated because the stress and anxiety of labor can also cause body temperature to rise. However, studies have shown that when a maternal fever over 100.4 degrees F is present with at least two of the following conditions is associated with a higher likelihood of chorioamnionitis and the resulting risk of neonatal sepsis:
Maternal intrapartum fever can lead to numerous complications for mother and baby, including both infectious and noninfectious conditions.
A sudden spike in maternal fever during labor that includes the administration of an epidural may result in serious risks to the baby in an otherwise low-risk delivery. For example, babies whose mothers had an intrapartum fever over 101 degrees F were two to six times more likely to have low Apgar scores, need ventilations, and have seizures.
Other neonatal consequences of maternal intrapartum fever include:
Maternal intrapartum fever is often treated by a team of specialists, including the obstetrician, anesthetist, microbiologist, physician, and neonatologist. All patients with intrapartum fever should have their blood pressure, respiratory rate, and pulse checked every 15 minutes during labor and the postpartum period. Broad-spectrum antibiotics are usually administered when an infection is pre-existing or identified during labor.
General measures should be performed to reduce the mother’s temperature by providing hydration (IV or orally), removing clothing and blankets, lowering room temperature, applying cool compresses, and providing fever-reducing medications like Tylenol.
Medical malpractice related to intrapartum fever complications typically occurs when women in labor are not properly monitored. During labor, if vital signs are not monitored, and doctors or other medical professionals don’t notice that a woman’s body temperature is elevated, both mother and baby are at risk of injuries. When injuries occur, and an experienced birth injury attorney can prove that it was due to improper monitoring, it may be considered a case of medical malpractice.
Cases that involve intrapartum fever and subsequent complications are challenging to prove. That’s why you must hire a medical malpractice lawyer that has experience with these types of cases. At Ross Feller Casey, we have a team of medical doctors on staff who are knowledgeable about intrapartum fever cases. They can review medical records and provide assistance to the lawyers working on your case.
Our attorneys understand that when serious injuries occur to your newborn, it’s hard to consider anything besides your baby’s care. But you may be entitled to compensation for your damages, which will help ease your family's financial burden of ongoing medical expenses. We are here to handle the legal process for you.
Contact the office of Ross Feller Casey for a free case evaluation. We will help you determine how best to proceed with your claim. You won’t pay anything out-of-pocket. We work on a contingency basis.
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