Expectant mothers rely on their treating physicians to promote their health, as well as the health of their babies. Part of this responsibility includes the accurate and timely diagnosis of disorders and potential problems. If this task is not carried out adequately, the result can be fatal. When a pregnancy is first diagnosed, one of the details that the mother is most concerned with is the age of the fetus. The due date becomes stamped in the minds and hearts of family and friends, as parents anticipate the arrival of a new life. But an inaccurate gestational age diagnosis can prove much more serious than the inconvenience and disappointment it can cause.
A study on TranstitionToParenthood.com discusses the potential risks of misdiagnosing the gestational age of a fetus. According to the report, about 66% of babies are born relatively close to their due dates, meaning within ten days. Variation from one pregnancy to another is expected, with factors like age, race and multiple births all playing a part in the normal gestational term.
Calculating the Due Date
There are numerous methods of calculating due dates, including:
Calculating from the believed date of conception – If the mother is able to narrow down a probable date of conception, the physician may calculate from this time. However, this method is rarely used, unless conception was medically accomplished and the date is certain.
Calculating from the first day of the last menstrual cycle – This is the most common method of calculation, though it can prove inaccurate based on memory mistakes, birth control medications, or pregnancy losses that are assumed to be menstrual cycles. The general calculation is the first date of the last menstrual cycle plus 7 days. Then three months are subtracted to determine a due date.
Ultrasound Images – Ultrasound images are used to measure the baby’s size. The numbers are then compared to average fetal growth to determine gestational age.
Time of Quickening – Quickening is the first feeling of fetal movement felt by the expectant mother. This usually happens around 17 or 18 weeks of pregnancy, so physicians sometimes measure age using the date of quickening.
Physical examination – A doctor can estimate the size of the baby through physical examination. As with ultrasound results, they can take this information and compare it to average fetal measurements.
Miscalculation of the gestational age can result in a variety of medical problems. Several pregnancy related decisions are made on the basis of the due date.
***Certain prenatal tests are given at specific times during the pregnancy. If the fetus is actually younger or older than the diagnosis, these tests may result in additional misdiagnoses of medical complications.
***In situations where a cesarean section is necessary, the operation is scheduled in relation to the due date. An incorrect age could result in a premature delivery, which can lead to serious medical complications for the baby.
***Based on a determined due date, a physician may diagnose a mother as post-term and make the decision to induce labor, resulting in a medically unnecessary induction.
If you or your newborn was injured, due to an incorrect diagnosis of gestational age, contact the experienced birth injury attorneys of Levin & Perconti today at (877) 374-1417 for a free consultation.
See Related Blog Posts: