A woman who carries a child full term will deliver after 39 to 40 weeks. A baby that is delivered before 39 weeks is considered to be premature. Typically a baby is considered “viable,” meaning they can survive outside of the womb, after 24 weeks. About 450,000 or 1 in 9 babies born in the United States are delivered prematurely. While a baby may be able to survive, they may be subject to a number of health challenges.
What Causes Premature Delivery?
The specific cause of premature delivery has not yet been identified. However, there are certain factors that can contribute or increase the risk of premature delivery.
- Previously giving birth prematurely
- A pregnancy with multiples (twins, triplets, etc.)
- Using in vitro fertilization to become pregnant
- An interval of less than six months between pregnancies
- Problems with the cervix, placenta, or uterus
- Smoking cigarettes or using illicit drugs
- Poor nutrition during the pregnancy
- Not gaining enough weight during the pregnancy
- Some infections of the amniotic fluid or lower genital tract
- Some chronic conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes
- Being underweight or overweight before pregnancy
- Stressful life events such as the death of a loved one
- Multiple miscarriages or abortions
- Physical injury or trauma
If you have any of these risk factors your doctor should monitor your pregnancy closely.
Premature Deliver Warning Signs
When a woman begins to experience preterm labor she should seek medical assistance immediately. In some cases, preterm labor can be stopped allowing the baby to either be carried full term or to allow steroids to be administered to accelerate the baby’s growth. If the premature labor cannot be stopped it is recommended that the birth take place in a hospital that can provide appropriate care for premature babies.
Potential warning signs can include:
- Contractions that are 10 minutes or less apart
- Vaginal discharge- leaking fluid or bleeding from the vagina
- Cramps that feel like your period
- Belly cramps
- A low, dull backache
- Reduced movement of the baby
- Pelvic pressure- a feeling that your baby is pushing down
Medical Malpractice and Premature Delivery
Doctors and medical staff must provide competent care for mothers and babies during pregnancy and the delivery process. Unfortunately, sometimes a doctor may fail to fulfill their duty to provide the proper medical care.
The doctor can contribute to causing a premature birth or provide inadequate care after a preterm birth by failing to:
- Recognize the signs of preterm labor
- Prescribe medications to stop or slow premature labor
- Prescribing steroids to accelerate the growth of the baby’s brain and lungs
- Order bed rest for the mother when she is at risk of premature labor
- Properly treat ineffectual cervix with sutures
The above are just a few examples of how a doctor can contribute to premature birth. In order to determine if a doctor is to be held liable, it is necessary to determine what a reasonable physician would have done in that situation. If a competent doctor that has a similar background would have properly diagnosed and treated the patient and the attending doctor failed to do so, then the attending doctor may be held liable for any injuries that the baby may have incurred due to his or her negligence.
Complications from a premature delivery will vary by how early the baby is delivered and if any steps were taken to accelerate fetal development. A baby that is born before 24 weeks will likely not survive, however those born after that period may be able to survive with medical intervention.
Complications from premature delivery can include:
- Hearing loss
- Vision loss
- Respiratory problems
- Cerebral palsy
- Digestive problems
It is important to keep in mind that birth injuries are normally preventable if a doctor takes the appropriate steps to diagnosis and treat premature delivery.
Contact us today.
If your doctor failed to diagnosis or respond to your premature delivery, your doctor may be held liable for medical malpractice. Contact the experienced attorney at Powers Taylor today to help you with your fight for justice. We pride ourselves on putting our clients first. Our attorneys have experience in all types of medical malpractice cases and have access to some of the most respected medical experts in the country.