Denver Premature Birth Attorneys
When Is a Preterm Birth Medical Malpractice?
Babies who are born before they reach “full term” require additional monitoring and active medical care. Healthcare providers need to assess pregnant women for the risk of preterm birth, and guide them to medical facilities that have the advanced care needed to protect the baby. The best time to do so is when the infant is still in the womb.
If you believe your child was born prematurely, or suffered harm during or after birth due to a doctor’s negligence, contact Leventhal Puga Braley P.C. Several of our top trial lawyers - including Jim Puga, Alex Wilschke, Molly Greenblatt – are members of the Birth Trauma Litigation Group of the American Association for Justice. We charge no upfront fees to talk to you and review your medical records.
When Is a Baby Premature?
Doctors determine a baby’s gestational age by narrowing down the date of the mother’s last menstrual cycle and examining ultrasound images. This allows them to estimate a due date for delivery, when the baby will be “full term” or fully developed between the 37th and 40th week of pregnancy. By definition, an infant is preterm if it comes before that 37th week. Twins and other multiples are more likely to be born prematurely.
Though new research shows that babies delivered at 22 weeks have a 25% chance of survival with proper medical care, they are considered viable between 24-28 weeks of gestational age – but they require active treatment.
Possible medical interventions include:
- Surfactant therapy (to continue to develop the lungs)
- Tracheal intubation
- Ventilation support
- Nutrition delivered intravenously or through a nasogastric tube
- Chest compressions
Doctors must immediately take into account the newborn’s birth weight, sex, race, prenatal treatment, maternal medical history, and Apgar score to determine how to treat and prevent further injury to the child.
Premature Babies Require Special Care
All newborn babies require protection from the cold, from germs, from hunger. Premature babies tend to have underdeveloped organs and weaker immune systems, and are at risk for many complications. If labor develops before 34 weeks of pregnancy, the infant may receive steroid injections to speed up the development of the lungs. After birth, manual resuscitation may be necessary. So might machine ventilation, depending on the health of the lungs. Any baby born with an infection needs antibiotics, and a baby with additional complications will need to go to the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) at once.
How a Mismanaged Pregnancy Is Medical Malpractice
“Preemies” are at increased risk for numerous complications:
- Motor disorders, such as cerebral palsy
- Brain damage, such as hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), periventricular leukomalacia (PVL), seizures, and intellectual disabilities
- Brain bleeds, such as intraventricular hemorrhages (IVH)
- Infections, such as meningitis and sepsis
- Hearing and vision problems
- Developmental delays
In our modern healthcare system, there are many ways to prolong a pregnancy to prevent premature birth, such as bed rest for the mother, hormone therapy (progesterone and corticosteroids), and cervical pessaries or cerclage (especially effective for twins or triplets). After a baby is born early, there are active steps that can be taken to lessen the risk of lifelong damage to the child.
If you believe your labor was mismanaged, contact our firm today. Leventhal Puga Braley P.C. has nationally acclaimed medical malpractice lawyers to review your records and investigate the case. Could the doctor have prevented the preterm birth? Could your child have received additional treatment? Our attorneys can find out. Call (303) 759-9945 to set up a no-cost consultation. We handle birth injury claims across the United States.
Great Trial Lawyers Obtaining Unparalleled Results