Preeclampsia and the Risk of Birth Injuries
Despite being one of the most common types of birth complications in America, preeclampsia is also one of the most difficult complications to understand. Preeclampsia occurs in about 3% to 5% of all pregnancies, but there isn’t one widely-agreed upon understanding among medical professionals about what, exactly, causes it or why it occurs in some women and not others. And when the exact causes of a condition are unknown, it can be very difficult for doctors to be able to detect or prevent it, let alone develop a treatment or cure for it.
Preeclampsia causes dangerously high maternal blood pressure, which can make it harder for the mother’s organs to function properly and makes it harder for the baby to get the oxygen and nutrients it needs to survive and grow. In some cases, preeclampsia can result in placental abruption, which can be very dangerous or fatal to both the mother and the child. Typically, preeclampsia occurs after 20 weeks of pregnancy, but there have been some cases where it’s occurred shortly after giving birth. Since babies born to mothers experiencing preeclampsia are often born prematurely, the baby is at a higher risk of potentially sustaining birth injuries like cerebral palsy, epilepsy, hearing and vision impairments, or experiencing learning and developmental disabilities.
Preeclampsia can happen to anyone, so it’s extremely important that your doctor carefully monitor you throughout your pregnancy to look for warning signs and take appropriate steps if it becomes clear that you are developing preeclampsia. The steps a doctor might take will largely depend on the mother’s condition and how far she is into her pregnancy. In some cases, a mother might be put on bed rest for the remainder of her pregnancy while a more severe case could require hospitalization. If the mother is late enough in her pregnancy, the doctor might decide it’s best to order a C-section or induce labor.
Even though preeclampsia is difficult to predict, there are certain risk factors associated with it, such as the mother being over the age of 40, having diabetes or lupus, carrying more than one infant, having issues with high blood pressure before pregnancy, and a previous history of preeclampsia in previous pregnancies. Doctors should be carefully monitoring all their patients for signs of preeclampsia, but if you have any of these risk factors, it’s particularly important that your doctor be keeping a close watch on your condition.
Despite the fact that preeclampsia is so difficult to understand, it’s common enough that doctors should know the signs and symptoms to watch for and know how to react to them. If you experienced preeclampsia during your pregnancy and your child suffered a birth injury, contact a birth trauma lawyer as soon as possible. An experienced birth trauma lawyer will be able to understand your unique situation, will be able to help you figure out whether or not your child’s injury could have been prevented, and can help you understand what legal options are available to you.