There are many serious risks of premature birth. Some health risks are short-term, while in other cases, being born prematurely can lead to problems that affect people for the rest of their lives. In addition to the physical problems from being born early, there are often serious financial impacts to parents of premature babies. Babies born prematurely typically stay in the hospital longer and may need specialized neonatal care, leading to increased doctor and hospital costs. Some premature children may need continuing medical care far into the future, depending on the severity of their condition.
How Common Are Premature Births?
According to the March of Dimes, 1 in 10 babies in the United States is premature. The problem is also growing worse, not better, as the number of premature births in the country increases each year.
Babies are considered premature, the Mayo Clinic says, when they are born more than three weeks before their due date, or before the 37th week of pregnancy. Categories of premature birth range from late preterm (34 to 36 weeks) to extremely preterm (born at or before 25 weeks). The more premature the baby is, the more likely there will be significant and life-altering complications.
Specific Dangers of Premature Birth
Some of the short-term issues for babies that are born prematurely include:
- Breathing problems
- Lung disorders
- Low blood pressure
- Heart issues
- Bleeding in the brain
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Poor immune system
- Higher chance of infections
- Feeding problems.
The long-term dangers of premature birth include:
- Cerebral palsy—a movement and balance disorder
- Impaired vision and hearing
- Dental problems, such as discolored and poorly aligned teeth
- Developmental delays
- Behavioral and psychological issues
- A higher risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
When babies are born prematurely, they have an overall higher risk of suffering from chronic health conditions throughout their lives.
Risk Factors for Premature Birth
In a lot of cases it’s not known why babies were born too soon. But there are various risk factors that can increase the chances of premature delivery. They include:
- Carrying more than one child
- A previous pre-term delivery
- Using in vitro fertilization to get pregnant
- Cigarette or drug use
- Having high blood pressure, diabetes, or other conditions
- Having a sexually transmitted disease (STD)
- Having had multiple abortions or miscarriages
- A short time period (less than six months) between pregnancies
- Being underweight or overweight
- Infections such as of the amniotic fluid, uterus, vagina, or cervix.
Medical experts say that physical trauma is also a risk factor for premature birth, as is psychological stress.
What to Do if You Have Risk Factors for Premature Birth
Be sure to speak with your doctor about your possible risk factors for premature birth. There may be some things that can be done during your pregnancy to reduce your risk. Every case is different and only a doctor who understands your unique medical history can advise you based on your circumstances.
Medical Negligence Can Contribute to Premature Birth and Other Problems
While most doctors are competent professionals, in some cases doctors may not provide proper care to patients and babies are born preterm, even though early delivery could possibly have been prevented through effective premature birth prevention. If you believe this has happened to you, it could be a case of medical negligence. Parents whose babies are born prematurely due to negligence may be able to file a legal claim for medical malpractice. In a legal claim, you could get compensation to help you pay for your child’s expensive medical care and other damages caused by the premature birth.
You might also have a claim for medical malpractice if proper care was not taken during delivery of your pre-term baby and injuries resulted during childbirth or if your newborn wasn’t adequately cared for in the hospital after pre-term delivery and this lack of care resulted in additional health problems.
To be successful in a claim, though, medical negligence must be proven. Proving medical negligence is an extremely complex and challenging process. It involves showing that the doctor did not behave in a way that another competent doctor would have under similar circumstances.
It’s advisable to work with a skilled medical malpractice attorney to greatly increase your chances of a favorable outcome in a claim. An attorney who is experienced at taking on medical malpractice cases knows what kind of evidence is needed to prove malpractice cases. They will investigate all the evidence involved and bring in expert witnesses and other resources on your behalf. An attorney will also file all the paperwork involved and keep you informed through every step, leaving you the ability to focus on caring for your newborn baby.
Statute of Limitations for Filing a Medical Malpractice Claim
Generally, Texas has a two-year statute of limitations for filing medical malpractice claims. It is generally two years from the date injuries occurred. In the case of premature birth, it would be two years from the date of birth or from when injuries due to the pre-term birth are discovered. If an infant dies, it is two years from the date of death.
There are exceptions to the statute of limitations, though. Always speak directly to an attorney about your case to learn the deadlines that apply.
Reach Out to an Experienced Houston Birth Injury Lawyer
Welcoming a new family member is one of life’s most precious moments. But when your baby did not go to full term and faces serious health challenges because of their prematurity, happiness can quickly turn to sorrow. It can also cause grave financial stress that you wouldn’t have experienced if your child hadn’t been born early. These health challenges may include various types of birth injuries.
If the negligence of a doctor, hospital, or other medical provider contributed to your child’s being born prematurely, or if they were harmed due to negligence during or after premature birth, we want to help you get compensation. Our compassionate attorneys at the accident and injury law office of Terry Bryant in Houston have extensive experience taking on negligence in the healthcare profession. Although we are Houston-based, we are equipped to take on serious medical malpractice cases involving birth injuries across the entire state of Texas. We won’t back down in protecting your rights. Call us today to arrange a free consultation with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer by calling (713) 973-8888 or toll-free 1 (800) 444-5000.