Medical advances are being made every day which provide a better understanding of how and why birth injuries arise, what causes them, and how to prevent them. It is important for our Illinois birth injury attorneys to keep abreast of these advances, because they guide the legal issues involved in some of our cases. Birth injuries are based upon negligence and negligence is based upon reasonable conduct in the circumstances. What constitutes reasonable or unreasonable conduct in medical actions depends on what is known by medical professionals at the time. The more advances that are made, the more than practitioners have to incorporate those advances to improve the medical care they provide.
However, as many families whose loved ones have experienced birth injuries will tell you, we have a long way to go before we have a complete understanding of the development process. That is even before we understand enough to be able to come up with preventative strategies that stop a birth injury or defect from arising in the first place.
For example, a Wall Street Journal article this week discussed the many mysteries that still surround stillbirths. Stillbirths are defined as any fetal death that occurs after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Every year there are as many stillbirths as there are infant deaths. All told researchers suggest that one out of every one hundred and twenty births in the United States each year are stillbirths. A new article in the Journal of the American Medical Association discusses the latest advances in understanding how these deaths occur and why.
One recent study involved postmortem examinations of 512 stillborn fetuses. Researchers were able to pinpoint probable causes in about 76% of those cases-a higher number than in the past. Of that group, the most common cause of death was obstetric complications like preterm labor. These cases often involve fetuses that are born before they can viably survive outside of the womb. Placental abnormalities are also often involved. These arise, for example, when the placenta cannot deliver enough nutrients or oxygen to the fetus. Beyond preterm labor birth and placenta problems, other common stillbirth causes include fetal genetic or structural abnormalities and umbilical cord problems.
In a different study, the potential risk factors were examined in an effort to understand what attributes at the start of a pregnancy might indicate a higher likelihood of a stillbirth. Some of the findings were expected, such as that having a previous stillbirth or miscarriage increased the likelihood of a second stillbirth. Interestingly, another factor seemed to be having type AB blood. Though, researchers were quick to point out that the actual risk tied to the blood type was small. There is no reason for pregnant women with AB blood to suddenly have serious concerns.
Overall, however, researchers admitted that they do not know a lot of why these problems develop in some women and not others. The goal is ultimately to have a way to screen pregnant women to known when a problem may develop and then find a way to prevent it. Yet, progress is often slow in this area, so even a little new knowledge on the topic should be welcomed.
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