Many Common Pregnancy Risks Can Be Avoided With Appropriate Medical Care
Mothers-to-be face many common risks that could affect the health of their babies. There are some birth defects and injuries that are difficult to treat or impossible to prevent, despite careful screening and treatment. However, although these risks are common, many of the birth injuries they cause can be prevented with adequate medical care during pregnancy. The professionals who care for an expecting mother have a responsibility to test for and react to these kinds of pregnancy risks and attempt to avoid problems. When they fail to do so, and a baby is harmed, it could be medical malpractice.
Finding out that a baby has been hurt during birth leaves a lot of questions. It isn’t always easy to tell when a birth injury could have been avoided or to think about what a doctor might have done wrong. If you have questions, here is an overview of some typical pregnancy risks, as well as some information that might help you understand whether the harm a baby suffered could have been prevented with adequate care.
Doctors should provide their patients with the best medical care possible during pregnancy in order to deliver healthy babies, and that means carefully creating a treatment plan that takes the mother’s existing health issues into account. When the expectant mother is obese, these are some of the additional steps doctors should take to help monitor the pregnancy:
- Offer specific health recommendations to obese women who are trying to become pregnant.
- Communicate proper weight gain and physical activity recommendations during pregnancy.
- Schedule frequent prenatal checkups and keep a close eye on blood pressure and glucose levels.
- Carefully monitor and control pre-existing medical conditions, including diabetes and high blood pressure, which can increase the risk of birth injuries.
A doctor who fails to provide a reasonable standard of care to an obese patient with pre-existing health concerns could be held responsible if birth injuries occur.
Having a child can sometimes prove to be a struggle for older couples looking to expand their families, and there are specific risks associated with advanced maternal age. The following conditions are more prevalent in older mothers:
- Decreased fertility. Women over age 35 have more difficulty conceiving a child, often turning to medical science for reproductive assistance.
- Miscarriage. Women over age 35 have an increased risk of miscarriage, or fetal loss during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. Although some miscarriages are unavoidable, they can sometimes be prevented through medication and other types of medical intervention.
- Genetic problems. Mothers over age 35 are more likely to have babies with chromosomal abnormalities such as Down Syndrome, Trisomy 13, or Trisomy 18.
- High blood pressure. Older mothers are more likely to experience high blood pressure, which is a sign of a serious condition called preeclampsia. High blood pressure keeps the baby from getting enough blood and oxygen, potentially limiting growth and development.
- Stillbirth. Older mothers are more likely to experience a stillbirth, which occurs when the fetus dies in the womb after 20 weeks gestation.
- Maternal death. Mothers over age 35 are more likely to die during childbirth than are younger women.
These risks can often be minimized by physicians and fertility specialists who provide proper care. However, if a medical care provider fails in his or her duty to provide a reasonable standard of care, mothers and their babies are the ones that suffer.
Expecting a new baby is an exciting time for parents-to-be. However, when expectant parents find out they are having twins or even triplets, some of that joy may be coupled with anxiety. There are many potential medical complications and health risks associated with multiple birth pregnancies, including:
- Increased risk of premature birth
- Low infant birth weight
- Increased risk of disabilities
In cases of extreme multiples such as quadruplets, quintuplets, or septuplets, there is an increased risk of neurological problems, like cerebral palsy. In addition, the likelihood of underdeveloped organs increases, causing newborns to require oxygen assistance at birth. Mothers of extreme multiples will likely be on bed rest during part of the pregnancy and may require C-section surgery to deliver all of the babies safely.
Although it is possible to conceive triplets and quadruplets naturally, most occur after fertility assistance. Here are the main causes of extreme multiple birth pregnancies:
- Multiple eggs were fertilized at the same time due to problems with hormone levels during ovulation.
- The fertility patient failed to follow her doctor’s instructions exactly, increasing the likelihood of conceiving multiples.
- Fertility doctors fertilized more eggs than originally planned, going against parental desires.
According to some medical professionals, extreme multiple birth pregnancies occur when doctors fail to follow their medical training or when patients do not fully follow the advice of their doctors. Extra medical care and attention from medical providers is needed to help decrease the likelihood of birth injuries. If doctors or hospitals fail to provide the specialized care required during a multiple birth pregnancy, there could be serious consequences for the mother and her babies.
Infertility is a problem for many throughout the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 6.1 million women between the ages of 15 and 44 have difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant through childbirth. For many, the answer to fertility issues can come in the form of medication and special surgeries. However, fertility treatments can come at a price. Along with the risks of multiple birth pregnancies covered above, assisted reproductive technologies such as in vitro fertilization (IFV) can increase the risk of certain birth defects.
Unfortunately, the risks of fertility treatments are increased when a medical provider makes a mistake. Medical negligence by fertility specialists can put patients in risk for the following:
- Excessive bleeding or even death from mistakes during the egg retrieval process.
- Implantation of eggs or sperm from the wrong donor.
- Donated sperm or eggs being infected with a sexually transmitted disease (STD).
- Wrongful destruction of viable embryos.
- Children being born with genetic disorders due to insufficient or improper genetic testing of donated eggs or sperm.
Many times, these risks can be reduced or eliminated when fertility specialists and medical providers provide proper care, treatment, and monitoring during pregnancy.
Approximately ten percent of all babies are born before 37 weeks of gestation—a condition known as preterm labor. Preterm labor, which can include severe contractions before 37 weeks or the cervix thinning too early, is the result of miscommunication in the body’s physiological signals. This miscommunication causes labor to begin too early. Preterm labor can be a dangerous thing for both mothers and their babies, exposing them to serious risks that include:
- Breathing problems associated with underdeveloped lungs
- Vision problems
- Heart defects
- Low birth weight
- Bleeding in the brain
Preterm labor may be caused by:
- The size of the uterus. The uterus may become so large, especially in the case of a multiple birth pregnancy, that it cannot withstand the internal pressure and will begin to contract.
- Reduced blood flow. The increased weight, especially in the case of multiples, may decrease the blood flow to the uterus, causing it to contract.
- Infection. Common infections, such as a urinary tract or kidney infections, can trigger early labor if not treated quickly.
- Incompetent cervix. An “incompetent cervix” is one that begins to widen and thin too early, causing preterm labor if not identified and treated.
- Physical trauma. Physical trauma resulting from a car crash, fall, or other accident could also cause preterm labor.
Many times, preterm labor is unavoidable due to biology, genetics, or unforeseen medical complications. However, with proper medical care, preterm labor can often be prevented.
How to Get Help If Medical Negligence During Pregnancy May Have Affected Your Baby
With every client we serve, we conduct a complete investigation into the birth injury to identify any mistakes that were made during the course of treatment and how they may have contributed to the harm our clients have suffered. We fight for maximum compensation for these tragic injuries and do our part to minimize the chances of these types of injuries happening to other mothers in the future.
If you have questions about your treatment during pregnancy and how it affected your baby, don’t hesitate to an attorney at Lane & Lane for help. Our skilled and compassionate attorneys have extensive experience with cases of birth injury. In a free case review, we will examine your situation, answer your questions, and help you to understand your legal options. Give us a call today at 312-332-1400 to learn more or schedule an appointment with our Chicago legal team.