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Premature Birth and Cerebral Palsy: What You Should Know

Premature birth is a birth that takes place at least three weeks before the baby’s estimated due date. Every year, about 1 in 10 babies in the United States is born prematurely. If you suspect that your baby was injured due to being born prematurely, read on. Throughout this blog, we’ll discuss important things to know about premature birth, cerebral palsy, and medical negligence.

Causes of Premature Birth

There are several risk factors that are well documented to increase the risk that a baby will be born early. It’s essential to learn about all the risk factors and talk to your health care provider about what you can do to reduce your preterm labor risk.

 Some pregnancy-related factors associated with premature birth include:

  • Poor nutrition
  • Smoking, using illegal drugs, or drinking alcohol
  • Having infections, such as UTI and amniotic membrane infection.
  • Premature birth in a previous pregnancy
  • Have a weakened cervix opening or abnormal uterus

Why is Premature Birth a Concern?

 Premature babies are more likely to suffer from medical complications. Very premature babies born before 28 weeks are particularly vulnerable. Unfortunately, some of the health problems related to premature birth can last a lifetime. Premature babies are often small, with low birth weight (often less than 5 pounds), and may need help breathing, eating, fighting infection, and keeping themselves warm. In some cases, their organs may not be ready for life outside the uterus and may be too immature to function correctly.

Some of the medical problems can be resolved through proper critical care. However, others can result in long-term disability or illness.

How Premature Birth and Cerebral Palsy are Connected

Cerebral palsy is a neurological condition and is the most common motor and movement disability of childhood. Cerebral palsy is caused by brain damage or abnormal brain development.

Several studies have found that premature birth is a significant risk factor for cerebral palsy. One study found that even babies who were born as few as two to three weeks early, are at a slightly increased risk for cerebral palsy. Children born before the 32nd week of pregnancy have an even greater chance of having cerebral palsy. Astoundingly, nearly half of all children diagnosed with cerebral palsy were born prematurely. Many of the neurological conditions and causes associated with Cerebral Palsy (such as damage to the brain’s white matter, known as periventricular leukomalacia, or PVL) are also closely linked to preterm delivery. 

Cerebral Palsy and Medical Negligence 

Additionally, several circumstances or medical issues can create a birth injury that leads to cerebral palsy. Damage to a baby’s developing brain before, during, or after birth can cause cerebral palsy. Most birth injury cases happen before birth, but a small percentage of injuries occur in the delivery room. If the medical team makes a mistake during a premature delivery, that mistake could cause disastrous consequences. In this case, the physician may become the responsible party. If you think your child may have been the victim of a preventable birth injury, you should contact a cerebral palsy lawyer for help.

We Can Help

With an expert understanding of medical malpractice, our birth injury lawyers can help you discover if your doctor could have prevented the premature birth or treated the birth differently. Preterm birth is predictable in many cases, and doctors are trained to prevent, delay, and treat these deliveries in a way that will limit birth injury. If a mother and baby are not closely monitored and standards of care are not followed, it may be considered negligence. If negligence has caused any permanent damage to the child, it is medical malpractice.

The scenarios below reflect negligence:

  • Failure to properly assess and test for risks factors
  • Mismanagement of ventilators or surfactant injections
  • Improper use of delivery tools on premature babies
  • Failure to diagnose and promptly treat maternal conditions, fetal conditions, or infections that lead to preterm birth
  • Failure to provide progesterone to a woman exhibiting risks for premature delivery or diminished progesterone levels

If your child was born prematurely or suffers from cerebral palsy, call the experienced attorneys at Graves McLain. Our passionate birth injury lawyers will review your child’s case for negligence, answer any questions, and explain your legal options. 

Call us today at 918-359-6600 or complete the online contact form below.

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