Is My Doctor To Blame For My Baby’s Preterm Birth?


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Preterm labor and birth can be dangerous for both mother and baby. The earlier a baby is born, the more health complications they are likely to have, some of them long-term or even permanent. Often, babies born prematurely have to spend time in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), sometimes for longer than what would have been full-term. For mothers, the complications that caused them to go into labor early and deliver prematurely have the potential to be serious or, in some cases, life-threatening.

While medical advancement has helped reduce problems associated with preterm birth, it still occurs frequently. Sometimes, preterm labor and delivery happen due to medical mistakes or negligence. If you or your baby was injured due to preterm birth that could have been prevented, you may be entitled to compensation through a medical malpractice lawsuit.

What Is Considered A Preterm Birth?

Pregnancy typically lasts about 40 weeks. Labor that begins before 37 weeks is considered to be preterm, as are babies that are born before 37 weeks. When a mother goes into preterm labor, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the baby will be born prematurely. However, it does mean that medical attention should be sought immediately.

Babies that are born early are at risk of serious health conditions. Some of those conditions are lifelong, like cerebral palsy. Other issues, like developmental delays, may not appear right away, but instead, show up later in childhood or even after becoming an adult.

What Are The Risk Factors For Preterm Birth?

Doctors are responsible for identifying risk factors when they are present. A failure to do so may result in a delay in treatment, which could negatively affect the mother, baby, or both. Some of the known risk factors of preterm birth include:

  • Previous preterm birth
  • Early dilation of the cervix (identified during pelvic exams)
  • Short cervix (identified during transvaginal ultrasound exams)
  • Previous surgical procedures on the cervix
  • Injury during previous births
  • Multiple pregnancy (more than one baby)
  • Maternal infections during pregnancy
  • High blood pressure
  • Bleeding during pregnancy
  • Low weight during pregnancy
  • Smoking, drinking alcohol or using drugs during pregnancy
  • Dietary or nutritional deficiencies
  • Pregnancy after 35 or before 17 years of age

What Are The Signs Of Preterm Labor?

In many cases, preterm labor starts unexpectedly, and the exact cause is unknown. The early signs of preterm labor are like those of regular, full-term labor. They include:

  • Dull, low backache
  • Cramps that are similar to menstrual cramps
  • Abdominal cramps, sometimes including diarrhea
  • A change in vaginal discharge (amount of discharge, bleeding, or leaking fluid)
  • Contractions that occur every ten minutes or more frequently
  • Pelvic pressure

If any of these signs are present before 37 weeks, it may indicate premature labor, which may lead to preterm birth.

When Are Injuries From Premature Birth Considered Medical Malpractice?

There are many different reasons that a baby may be born early, some of which are unpreventable. However, in cases where a doctor’s or other medical professional’s negligence causes or contributes to premature delivery, you may be able to file a medical malpractice lawsuit to hold the party responsible.  

Not all medical mistakes are found to be medical malpractice, and these cases can be challenging to prove. You need a medical malpractice attorney who has experience with preterm birth injury cases. Your attorney will have to prove that your doctor (or another medical professional) violated the standard of care and, as a result, caused the mother or baby to sustain injuries or health issues. Doctors are responsible for monitoring pregnant women for any signs of preterm labor and treat those signs appropriately and promptly. A failure to do so can lead to the child or mother needing a lifetime of medical care or even death.

At Ross Feller Casey, we have a team of Ivy League-educated doctors on staff to consult on preterm birth cases. They have the education and experience to carefully review medical records and identify where any negligence occurred. We also have expert attorneys with proven track records of winning large financial recoveries for parents who have been impacted by preterm births and the injuries that resulted.  

Let Ross Feller Casey help with your preterm birth case. Contact our office today to schedule your free case review. One of our knowledgeable birth injury attorneys will help you decide how to proceed with your claim. All of our medical malpractice cases are handled on a contingency basis, so there is no cost to you until there is a financial recovery for the claim.

Disclaimer: Ross Feller Casey, LLP provides legal advice only after an attorney-client relationship is formed. Our website is an introduction to the firm and does not create a relationship between our attorneys and clients. An attorney-client relationship is formed only after a written agreement is signed by the client and the firm. Because every case is unique, the description of awards and summary of cases successfully handled are not intended to imply or guarantee that same success in other cases. Ross Feller Casey, LLP represents catastrophically injured persons and their families in injury and wrongful death cases, providing legal representation in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.