The birth of a child should be a cause for celebration. In the case of a premature birth, however, complications and even medical mistakes can result in childbirth injuries and even death of the child.
According to the March of Dimes, nearly 10% of US births are premature–a figure that has risen in recent years and remains the highest among developed countries. Shockingly, out of 184 countries surveyed by the World Health Organization (WHO), the US ranks among the top third in premature births and has the highest infant mortality rate compared to other wealthy countries.
Premature Delivery Injuries Can Be Due to Hospital Malpractice
A normal pregnancy is 37 to 40 weeks. Any birth that occurs earlier than 37 weeks is considered a premature or preterm birth. The risks involved with premature births are many and can result in long-term health issues. Those few weeks can mean the difference between a fully healthy child and one that suffers from breathing and heart problems, or brain injury and developmental issues.
Hospital malpractice too often results in these childbirth injuries. Because of the high-stress nature of a premature birth, specific care and procedures need to be followed before, during, and after a premature delivery.
All too often, hospital malpractice cases expose inappropriate and negligent care. The problem is widespread, necessitating the need for victims to seek out a birth injury lawyer to address the highly complicated issues involved.
The Dangers of Premature Birth
Brain injury often occurs due to undeveloped lungs and blood vessels. Babies can suffer from asphyxiation during birth and must be immediately ventilated. Poor respiratory responses can lead to further complications such as cerebral palsy and brain damage.
Inexperienced medical personnel can contribute to these issue through poor training or negligent practices. The variety and complexity of childbirth injuries can often be difficult to sort through.
Birth injury lawyers are highly experienced in hospital malpractice cases that involve childbirth injuries and trauma, and understand the long-term care issues caused by cerebral palsy and other birth injuries. They can help determine whether the effects of a premature birth are the result of malpractice.
Potential Premature Childbirth Injuries
The defining characteristic of a premature delivery is that anatomical systems have not had the time to develop for a maximally healthy delivery. Here are the areas that can be affected:
The Respiratory System
The lungs typically need at least 36 weeks to develop proper functioning. Premature delivery often means difficulty breathing that entails a respirator or intubation to open airways.
Respiration needs careful calibration so as not to stress already fragile lungs. Intubation must be done precisely in the small bodies of premature babies so as to avoid physical injury and further complications in breathing.
The Digestive System
Immature digestive systems cannot absorb nutrients effectively. Premature babies often need intravenous feeding or the insertion of a feeding tube for breast milk or formula. These procedures expose the baby to risks of injury and infection.
The Vascular System
Blood vessels need time to develop. Immature blood vessels in the brain, for instance, can lead to dangerously low levels of oxygen that can affect brain function and development. The heart might not be fully formed enough to function on its own, requiring medication to assist the final development.
Potential infections can lead to life-threatening risks like pneumonia and sepsis, or eye disorders that might require surgery. Infections of all kinds remain a primary concern throughout the neonatal period for up to four weeks, and some might not be apparent until much later.
Medical Professionals Can Make Mistakes – Contact a Birth Trauma Lawyer
The high-stress of a premature birth brings with it an additional risk of medical malpractice. A premature birth is a highly specialized situation that demands extraordinary care. Life literally hangs in the balance.
Poor training, inexperience, or even negligence can lead to catastrophic consequences. Attention to the risks of childbirth injuries is paramount even before the birth, particularly when early indications for a premature birth are overlooked.
Seeking advice from a birth injury attorney may help victims families bring clarity as to what took place and if there was negligence they may be entitled to compensation. The Rothenberg Law Firm LLP are personal injury attorneys experienced in birth trauma cases. We have fought for our clients for over 48 years, and with the help from our medical malpractice lawyers, families can keep their focus on caring for their children.