When a baby is born too early, there can be significant medical complications for the infant. Some complications can last a lifetime, causing parents to be emotionally and financially burdened for a long period of time. Situations like this are only made worse when the preterm labor and delivery could have and should have been prevented. Too often, medical malpractice is to blame for premature births and the complications associated with them.
What is Preterm Labor and What Causes It?
Labor that begins anytime before the 37th week of pregnancy is considered preterm. It includes one or more of the following:
- Contractions of the uterus along with cervical changes
- The rupture of the membranes (water breaking)
- Dilation of the cervix
There are many factors that may contribute to a pregnant woman going into preterm labor, even though exact causes are often unknown. Some of the factors that lead to preterm labor are:
- Hypertension or preeclampsia in the mother
- Chronic medical condition in the mother
- Maternal infections (like urinary tract infections, vaginal infections, group B streptococcus)
- Substance or alcohol abuse
- Cervical incompetence
- Previous births that were premature
- Problems with the placenta
- Premature rupture of membranes
- Multiple pregnancy
- Rh factor incompatibility
What Types of Birth Complications Can Result from Preterm Labor?
The biggest concern with preterm labor is, of course, premature birth. Babies that are born before week 37 of gestation have increased risks of having complications. Babies born early are often very small, with low birthweights. They may need assistance breathing, regulating their body temperature, eating, and fighting infection. Babies who are born very early (before 28 weeks) are even more vulnerable. They may have underdeveloped organs and may not be ready to live outside the womb.
Some of the other complications that may result from preterm birth are:
- Respiratory problems
- Cardiovascular issues
- Blood and metabolic problems
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Neurological issues
Many of the problems that premature babies suffer from are long-term. The severity of a preterm baby’s complications is usually related to how early he or she was born.
Can Preterm Birth Complications Be Prevented?
The practice of medicine has advanced significantly in the last several decades. That means that many babies who are born prematurely are surviving even though they were very small and vulnerable. That said, the prevention of preterm labor and delivery is the best way to ensure healthy babies.
The key to preventing birth complications due to preterm birth is prenatal care. Mothers should be carefully monitored at regular prenatal doctors’ appointments. Maternal weight gain and nutrition are closely linked to the baby’s weight gain and birthweight, so it’s important that those aspects are monitored. Good prenatal care can also help detect any problems or lifestyle habits that can increase the chances of preterm birth. Doctors and other medical professionals should always:
- Provide prenatal education regarding symptoms of preterm labor, so it can be easily identified by expectant mothers and their families
- Identify preterm labor risk factors present in pregnant women
- Advise expecting mothers to avoid heavy or repetitive work
- Identify and treat preterm labor quickly to prevent preterm birth
When doctors fail to do any of the above, and mother or baby suffer birth injuries as a result, it may be considered medical negligence.
Let Our Attorneys Help You with Your Birth Injury Case
If your child has been diagnosed with any of the above-mentioned birth complications, you likely have questions and concerns. Were there mistakes made during the pregnancy or childbirth? Could your child’s condition have been prevented? The answer to both of these questions is: it’s possible. Premature deliveries can be caused by negligence on the part of medical professionals.
When a medical professional fails to diagnose conditions or infections in a mother that result in preterm labor or delivery, the baby can suffer injuries. When doctors, nurses, or other medical professionals make mistakes that harm babies, they can be found to be responsible for the injuries and held accountable.
However, proving that in birth injury claims can be very complicated and requires extensive legal and medical knowledge to have a positive outcome. Additionally, it can take significant resources to investigate and research the claim. At Ross Feller Casey, we have the knowledge and the resources to help you with your birth injury case.
Our birth injury attorneys have an unmatched track record of winning even the most complex lawsuits. In fact, over the last three years alone, Ross Feller Casey has recovered over $600 million, including many cases involving birth injuries. Let us help you explore your legal options related to your child’s birth injuries. Contact our office to schedule an appointment to review your case for free.