Birth Injuries Caused by Preeclampsia
Preeclampsia (pre-eclampsia) is a pregnancy disorder characterized by a combination of high blood pressure and excess protein in one’s urine, often occurring at around the 20th week of gestation.
High blood pressure in an expectant mother is known to put an extraordinary amount of strain on the mother and baby’s organs, and can lead to serious health complications (such as blood clots and seizures) if not quickly identified and properly treated.
Women who suffer eclampsia seizures during pregnancy often suffer from complications including aspiration pneumonia, cerebral hemorrhage, the development of HELLP syndrome, hemorrhagic or ischemic stroke, liver damage, kidney failure, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), and cardiac arrest.
Pre-eclampsia (also referred to as pregnancy-induced hypertension or PIH) is also associated with increased occurrences of preterm deliveries and placental abruption events, both of which can lead to serious birth injuries, including the development of cerebral palsy.
How Dangerous is Preeclampsia?
Preeclampsia is said to cause kidney and liver failure in about a quarter of all cases. The baby may experience fetal growth restrictions and seizures, and their health can be further affected by a complications related to a premature delivery such as hypoxia.
There is an increased risk of placental abruption in pregnancies where preeclampsia is involved. This can lead to heavy bleeding and limited blood flow (oxygen) to the baby’s brain. A mother’s high blood pressure itself can also lead to limited placental blood flow, which can make it hard for a growing child to receive the right amount of oxygen to their growing brains.
This underdevelopment can make it more-likely for the child to suffer brain damage due to prolonged periods of oxygen deprivation during labor and delivery, leading to brain damage and the development of cerebral palsy.
Failing to Diagnose & Medical Malpractice
Medical professionals know to identify a mother’s potential risk factors and monitor her health throughout the pregnancy. Failing to promptly diagnose and treat preeclampsia could be considered medical malpractice, allowing the family to seek money damage from the hospital through a personal injury claim or lawsuit.
Risk factors for preeclampsia include:
- 1st-time mothers
- Advanced maternal age
- Chronic hypertension or a prior history of pre-eclampsia
- Kidney problems
- Twins or triplets
- A vitamin D deficiency
- Placental abnormalities
Typically, a pregnant woman sees an obstetrician on a regular basis during pregnancy to check that the baby is growing as expected, and that there are no risks to the pregnancy (as well as the mother’s health). Blood pressure should be monitored, and any gestational hypertension issues should be mitigated either though light exercise, minimizing stress, or blood pressure lowering medications.
Preeclampsia tends to be insidious, meaning that mothers who have it usually don’t show obvious symptoms until very late into their pregnancy. This makes it vital that one is diagnosed at a very early stage.
Some of the most common symptoms of preeclampsia include:
- Chronic headaches
- Chest pain
- Blurry vision
- Abdominal pain on one’s right side
- Swelling of the hands and face
- Fast weight gain which happens over a few days
If your feel as though your doctor failed to properly diagnose preeclampsia which ultimately led to your child’s development of cerebral palsy, you may wish to discuss your concerns with a birth injury attorney in your area. Not all cases of cerebral palsy can be attributed to medical malpractice, but its important that you explore all options when it comes to your child’s health and well-being.