A doctor’s failure to properly manage the health of the mother during pregnancy can lead to serious complications and risks.
Pregnancy is a complicated process that can cause changes in the mother’s body chemistry. These changes are to be expected, but when a physician doesn’t properly address and manage the associated risks, the consequences can be devastating, including cerebral palsy, mental retardation and developmental disability, vision and hearing loss, seizures, and infant death. If proper precautions aren’t taken during pregnancy, it can cause issues during delivery and after birth.
Blood Pressure Problems
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, in the mother during pregnancy can potentially harm the development and viability of the baby. Hypertension can be:
- Chronic or long-term (starting before the pregnancy) or
- Gestational (starting after the 20th week of pregnancy)
Other related conditions include:
- Preeclampsia, a form of gestational hypertension that involves a high level of protein in the urine, and
- Eclampsia, which causes the mother to develop grand mal seizures.
When high blood pressure problems are not properly diagnosed and treated, they can increase the risk of neonatal brain injury and infant death.
Blood Sugar Problems
Diabetes is a disease involving high levels of blood sugar or blood glucose. When diabetes pre-exists pregnancy or occurs during pregnancy (gestational diabetes) and is not properly managed by the mother’s obstetrician, it can cause various complications that can threaten the health of both mother and child.
Left untreated, gestational diabetes can pass additional blood glucose from mother to infant, causing the child’s pancreas to produce extra insulin. This can in turn lead to macrosomia, which causes excessive fetal weight and size that can bring on early labor and delivery accompanied by respiratory distress and breathing difficulties.
Gestational diabetes can lead to further health concerns for the mother, including preeclampsia and excessively high blood pressure, organ damage, and longer-term Type 2 diabetes, and is also associated with an increased risk of fetal death.
Decreased Blood Flow to the Baby
As the mother passes blood to the fetus, it necessary oxygen and nutrients necessary for brain development. When blood flow to the brain is compromised (brain ischemia), brain cells are deprived of oxygen for too long a period of time, they die off and pose a threat of permanent brain damage.
Lack of blood flow from mother to baby can be caused by:
- Separation of the placenta from the uterine wall (placental abruption)
- Preeclampsia and eclampsia
- Abnormally rapid contractions
- A compressed umbilical cord
Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (partial oxygen deprivation) or anoxic ischemic encephalopathy (total oxygen deprivation) forces the baby’s body to make up for the lack of blood and oxygen to the brain by diverting it from major organs like the liver and kidneys, which can cause organ damage.
Mothers with bacterial and viral infections during pregnancy risk transmitting those infections to the baby via the placenta before birth or by direct contact during labor and delivery – threatening miscarriage, birth defects, or neonatal complications.
Prenatal and perinatal infections include:
- Group B streptococcus is a bacterial infection found in a pregnant woman’s vagina or rectum. An estimated one in every 2,000 babies in the U.S. is affected by Group B strep, although not every baby born to a mother who tests positive the infection will become ill.
- Genital herpes, a viral infection that remains in the body and can be reactivated later, can be transmitted during labor and delivery. The occurrence rate is approximately one in every 3,200 deliveries with an estimated 1,500 cases of neonatal infections each year, and the impact of the disease can devastating.
- Other infections such as salmonellosis, cytomegalovirus, varicella (Chickenpox), erythema infectiosum (“Fifth Disease”), listeriosis, and toxoplasmosis
Blood Type Issues
In some instances, the mother’s blood type is different from the baby’s, known as Rh incompatibility, which is determined by a test administered in the beginning stages of pregnancy.
Rh incompatibility creates a situation in which antibodies in the mother’s blood can attack the baby’s red blood cells and Rh antigens. If the antibodies enter the placenta it can lead to various threats:
- Elevated bilirubin levels
- Low muscle tone
- Brain damage
- Heart failure
- Stillbirth or infant death
Pregnancy and the birth of your baby should be an exciting and joyous time in your life, but it is not without risk. If medical errors have jeopardized your health or the health of your baby, you need to consult an attorney with deep experience in birth injury cases and obtaining significant verdicts and settlements. You need Sommers Schwartz.