The possibility of a premature birth may cause expectant parents to worry. A child that is born prematurely is more susceptible to birth injuries and other complications. While not all prematurely born children will experience complications, it is important for your family to understand the possible problems that may occur. If your child suffered an injury associated with being born prematurely, you should consult with an experienced Baltimore medical malpractice attorney. The attorneys at Bennett & Heyman, P.A. understand the birth of a child should be a wonderful experience, not one that causes you stress. In this article, our Maryland birth injury lawyers discuss the possible complications of premature birth.
Common Premature Birth Risk Factors
A premature birth is one that occurs prior to the thirty-seventh week of pregnancy. Children who are born more than three weeks before their estimated due date are in danger of various medical problems. Generally, babies born before their due date can fall into four different categories:
- Late Preterm – Babies who are born between the thirty-fourth and thirty-sixth weeks of pregnancy
- Moderately Preterm – Babies born between the thirty-second and thirty-fourth weeks of pregnancy
- Very Preterm – Children born on or before the thirty-second week of pregnancy
- Extremely Preterm – Children born on or before the twenty-fifth week of pregnancy
Children born prematurely may exhibit certain symptoms like low body temperature, labored breathing, and even a lack of reflexes and motor skills that may make it difficult to feed them. Premature babies are also born underweight in comparison to a child born closer to the fortieth week of the pregnancy. For example, a child born at 40 weeks usually weighs about seven to eight pounds, while children born around the thirty-fifth week weigh approximately five pounds. Children born at the extremely preterm stage may even be born only weighing one pound. However, the majority of premature births occur at the late preterm stage.
The main cause of premature births has not yet been discovered. However, there are identifiable risk factors that may increase the probability of a premature birth, including the following:
- The mother is carrying twins, triplets, etc.
- Becoming pregnant less than six months after giving birth
- Smoking or using certain drugs
- Chronic conditions or illnesses, like hypertension and diabetes
- Being underweight or overweight prior to becoming pregnant
- Experiencing stressful events
- Multiple miscarriages or abortions
- Physical injury or trauma
Note that this is not an exhaustive list of risk factors that may trigger a premature birth.
Complications Caused by Premature Birth
Premature births often cause children to suffer from short-term and long-term complications. Physicians and hospitals should keep you and your family informed of any complications and necessary treatments that your child may need if they are born prematurely. Failure to diagnose dangerous conditions caused by a premature birth may leave a medical practitioner or hospital liable for a claim of hospital negligence or medical malpractice.
Short-Term Premature Birth Complications
Heart problems are a common issue for children who are born prematurely. Patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) is a heart problem that often affects premature babies. PDA is a condition where extra blood is pumped into the lung arteries from the right side of the heart. If too much blood is pumped into the lung arteries, the lungs can become congested because the heart and lungs cannot handle the additional blood.
A premature child can also suffer from brain-related issues. An intraventricular hemorrhage is a complication that causes bleeding in a child’s brain. If the complication is not resolved, the child can suffer from permanent brain damage.
Blood diseases can also affect a premature baby. Anemia is a condition that causes the child’s body to produce fewer blood cells than the average child. This means that the child’s body will be unable to oxygenate itself properly.
Long-Term Premature Birth Complications
Babies born prematurely have an increased risk of suffering from cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy may be caused by an infection, trauma to the baby’s brain, or insufficient blood flow. This disorder will cause a child to have difficulty with posture, motor skills, muscle tone, and movement.
Hearing and vision issues are also a problem for premature children. Abnormal retinal vessels may cause a child to suffer from retinal detachment. This may cause long-term vision issues and even blindness. Premature children are also at a higher risk for developing dental problems. The child’s teeth may grow in later than normal and may also be discolored or misaligned.
There are various other complications not discussed here that can have a significant impact on your child’s life. It is important to learn about possible complications your child may encounter so that you can be prepared to get them necessary treatment.
Baltimore Medical Malpractice Attorneys Can Fight for Your Child
If your child was born prematurely and was injured by negligent medical practitioners, you should speak with an experienced Baltimore personal injury attorney today. The attorneys at Bennett & Heyman, P.A. are here to fight for you and your family. To schedule a free consultation, call us at (410) 845-2385 or reach us online.