Articles Posted in Pre-term Birth

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KERA News shared an interesting story this week summarizing a new book by a father about dealing with his daughter’s extremely premature birth. In the book, the father, who is also an obstetrician and gynecological doctor, shares information on both the medical details of premature birth as well as the many emotions experienced by the involved families. In this way, the book may be enjoyed by many local families who have had a loved one suffer an Illinois birth injury, with the range of mental, physical, emotional, and financial consequences that attach.

The book, titled Fragile Beginning: Discoveries and Triumphs in the Newborn ICU, beings with the author sharing his own story. His wife was just 26 weeks pregnant with the family’s third child when she went into labor. Of course, the family was incredibly worried from the outset, because the labor began a full three months before the mother’s due date. Eventually the girl was born via emergency C-section, and she immediately rushed off to the neonatal unit. The girl weighed just one pound fifteen ounces. Children born early quite often suffer a range of birth injuries, many of which can be life-threatening. In the author’s case, he was fortunate that his daughter survived and did not suffer any permanent life-long cognitive impairments.

She did not go unscathed, however.

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Dealing with complications from childbirth are heart-wrenching experiences. In many cases, these challenges force families to confront the possibility that both the mother and infant might be lost. Our Chicago birth injury lawyers are well versed in the consequences of problems during pregnancy and childbirth. Sometimes these complications are completely unavoidable aspects of the natural process. However, at other times the birth injury could and should have been prevented if proper medical care had been provided. The pain, emotion, and loss in all cases are the same, however.

Unfortunately, for the newborns caught up in these situations, the consequences often permanently dictate their lives. This week the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel reported on the myriad of problems face by infants born prematurely. It is explained how many premature infants fight to survive and, if they do make it, suffer major disabilities. As it currently stands, half of all infant death result from complications from premature births.
However, even when it appears that the infant made it without major disabilities, there are often problems lurking under the surface that will not appear until later. They are the hidden costs of a preterm birth.
Many children who are born prematurely suffer intelligence issues, learning disabilities, and behavioral problems. Studies continue to show that those children born prematurely are less likely to graduate high school and obtain college degrees. Those educational issues have tremendous affects on these individual’s lifetime economic situation.

New research has found that IQ rates tend to decrease on average the less a premature infant weighs at birth. Of course, this is a trend and not a specific rule. But, it is clear that those children born earlier and weighing less are more likely to suffer learning problems which may ultimately influence their entire lives. Part of the problem is that infants who are forced to spend longer times in intensive care are at higher risks of experiencing brain problems. Lack of oxygen, infection, and hemorrhages can strike when these young children are at their most vulnerable just out of the womb. An infant in the intensive care unit it subject to changes in temperature, noise, and light which may also affect brain development. All of these stressors can injure the child Continue reading

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According to a lawsuit recently filed by Fiona and Stanley Brown, negligence on the part of Lakeland OB-GYN and Lakeland Regional Medical Center caused their child, Destiny, to be born suffering from cerebral palsy and seizures.

The birth injury lawsuit claims that while Fiona and Stanley were at Lakeland Regional, the fetal monitor strip indicated a decrease in fetal heart rate. At thirty-eight weeks pregnant, Fiona was told that she needed to undergo an emergency Cesarean section.

Lakeland Regional is accused of not providing timely care before Destiny’s birth, not treating the fetal distress quickly enough, not reporting changes in Fiona’s condition to the attending doctor quickly enough, and of delaying the C-section.
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According to McMaster University researchers who collected information from over one million women in 84 studies, overweight moms-to-be have considerably higher risks of delivering prematurely. This risk increases with the weight of the women.

In the first 28 days of a baby’s life, those born prematurely have the highest risk of illness and death. The complications from premature birth include breathing problems, infections and feeding problems with the ultimate risk being death. The rise of obesity in women has contributed to the rise in cesarean sections, along with an increased rate of birth trauma and delivery room emergencies, including birth injuries.

Pre-eclampsia, which is a condition of pregnancy marked by high blood pressure, is more likely to be found in obese women as are blood clots in the legs and diabetes. According to Canadian statistics, 23%of women are obese, while 29% are overweight. Women aged 25-34, deliver over 60% of Canadian babies every year and their obesity rates have nearly doubled in the past 25 years.

In comparison, in the United States according to The Weight-control Information Network, 49.6% of non-Hispanic black women, 43 % of Hispanic women and 33% of non-Hispanic white women are obese. With these high levels of obesity among American women, one can assume that women in the U.S. share the same risks as those in Canada.

The studies found an increased risk of about 24% of spontaneous preterm birth in the overweight or obese women. Additionally, these women had a 30% greater risk of induced preterm births before 37 weeks (a full-term pregnancy is 40 weeks). In the very obese women, the risk rises to 70 %.

Although doctors are not recommending pregnant women lose a large amount of weight during their pregnancy, these studies stress that women should try to optimize their weight before pregnancy to reduce the risks to the child. Weight loss can remove or lessen some of the risks. Childbirth is a routine procedure, but malpractice does occur and the effects can be devastating. That is why it is crucial for expecting mothers to do whatever they can to reduce the risk of premature birth and complications during labor and delivery. Doing so may help to prevent serious and lifelong birth injuries such as Erb’s Palsy or Cerebral Palsy. Birth injury prevention should be an important consideration for all pregnant women.
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While babies can develop cerebral palsy a number of different ways, including as a result of medical negligence during birth, premature babies have a significantly higher risk of developing the developmental disorder than babies carried full-term. In fact, about a third of all cases of cerebral palsy occur in pre-term births. Evidence from a new Cochrane Review study, however, indicates that treating women at risk of very preterm birth with magnesium sulfate may increase the baby’s chance of being born free of cerebral palsy by as much as 32 percent. The treatment was also found to decrease the chance of developing other major movement disabilities by 39 percent.

Read more about the magnesium sulfate study here.

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Surviving birth may have been only half the battle for the controversial octuplets born last week to a 33-year single mother from Southern California. Although none of the infants suffered any birth injuries, they were born premature, putting them at an increased risk of developing cerebral palsy and other developmental disorders. A new study that looked at late pre-term births found that babies born between the 30th to 33rd gestation weeks may be almost 8 times more likely to have cerebral palsy than babies that were carried the full 37 weeks. The octuplets were carried just 30 weeks. The infants’ doctors have recognized their heightened risk and have stated that they will closely monitor the babies for symptoms that may develop at a later time.

To learn more about the risks facing the babies, and to read about the octuplet mother’s interview on NBC, click here.

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New research indicates that infants born just a few weeks prematurely are over three times more likely to develop cerebral palsy than full-term infants. The new study, sponsored in part by the March of Dimes, found that the earlier an infant is born, the higher the risk of some neuro-developmental problems. According to the research, babies born between the 30th to 33rd gestation weeks were almost 8 times more likely to have cerebral palsy than babies that were carried full-term (37 weeks).

Read more about the study here.