When a baby is at risk of being born preterm, there is also at risk of a number of health complications. One thing that can mitigate those complications is the administration of steroids; when a doctor fails to administer steroids in a premature birth situation and harm to the newborn results, the doctor may be held liable for medical malpractice. Our birth injury lawyers at the office of the Preszler Law Firm can help.
The act of creating life and giving birth is not only the most natural thing in the universe, but also one of the most miraculous. While developing and birthing a baby may be an innate ability that women possess, not all pregnancies and deliveries go as planned. For various reasons, the mother or baby may experience complications during the pregnancy, and sometimes, preterm birth is a risk.
When a baby is at risk of being delivered prematurely, action needs to be taken immediately; premature birth can result in serious infant harm as a result of underdevelopment. One solution for mitigating infant harm is the administration of steroids. When a doctor fails to take this course of action, and this failure is a violation of the standard of care owed to a mother and her infant, the doctor may be held liable for any harm that results. Our Ontario birth injury lawyers at the office of the Preszler Law Firm have represented families like yours in the past, and are ready to sit down with you to review your case today.
The Risks of Preterm Birth
As explained by the Mayo Clinic, a preterm birth is defined as a birth that occurs before the start of the 37th week of pregnancy/more than three weeks before the baby’s actual estimated due date. Because the last three weeks of a pregnancy are a crucial time for development, a baby who is born preterm may be at risk of a number of complications, including:
- A disproportionately large head and small body size;
- Less-rounded features due to a lack of fat;
- Fine hair covering a large portion of the body;
- Low body temperature (again, this is due to a lack of body fat);
- A lack of certain critical reflexes, such as sucking and swallowing, which can be extremely dangerous; and
- Respiratory distress and trouble breathing, primarily due to underdeveloped lungs.
In addition to the above, more serious complications that are sometimes seen with premature birth situations include:
- Immature respiratory system that leads to serious breathing complications;
- Development of bronchopulmonary dysplasia, a lung disorder;
- Heart problems, including low blood pressure, heart murmurs, and even heart failure;
- Brain problems, including intraventricular hemorrhaging;
- Gastrointestinal problems, including necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC);
- Blood problems, including anemia and newborn jaundice;
- Metabolism problems, including hypoglycemia (low blood sugar); and
- Immune system problems, which increase the risk of infection.
All of the above complications may open the doors to long-term complications, including learning impairments, cerebral palsy, hearing or vision complications, behavioral problems, psychological disorders, chronic health issues, and more.
Steroid Administration for Preterm Birth
There is no doubt that preterm birth can result in both short- and long-term medical and developmental complications that can have an effect on the infant, family, and even the society as a whole. As such, taking steps to reduce the risk of preterm birth is critical.
One medical development that has been monumental in reducing preterm birth is the administration of steroids during pregnancy. Some studies highlight the efficacy of vaginal progesterone and progesterone supplementation, as well as the administration of other antenatal corticosteroids. In fact, today, administration of antenatal steroids is standard care for women with an anticipated preterm labor.
Steroid administration is not important because it reduces the risk of delivering a baby before 40 weeks of pregnancy have elapsed; rather, steroid administration is so important because steroids can fuel the development of the baby’s vital organs, including the lungs. In fact, some data shows that when steroids are administered to a mother who is expected to go into labor prematurely, the risk of a lung disease developing in the infant is reduced by 50%, and the risk of infant death is reduced by up to 40%. Steroids have also been shown to reduce intestinal and brain-bleeding problems.
Failure to Administer Steroids and Medical Malpractice
Steroid administration may not be appropriate in all preterm birth situations. There are also a number of risks that have been associated with steroid administration, including mental health-related risks. In order to determine whether or not the administration of steroids is appropriate and within the medical standard of care owed to you and your baby, a doctor must consider factors such as the baby’s gestational age and weight, overall health of the baby and the mother, and other medical details, including the parents’ opinion.
A doctor is obligated to act in a manner that is consistent with what another doctor of similar background and training would do in a comparable situation; this is referred to as acting within the medical standard of care. When a doctor fails to administer steroids in a preterm birth situation, the failure is deemed to be a breach of the medical standard of care. If the infant suffers serious harm as a result, then the doctor/hospital may be held liable for that harm.
Our Ontario Birth Injury Lawyers can Help
As a new parent, you surely wanted nothing more from your pregnancy than to give birth to a baby who is healthy. When your baby has been harmed and that harm would not have resulted but for a medical professional’s malpractice, you have the right to take action to hold the medical professional liable and seek monetary damages for the harm suffered by your family.
At the office of the Preszler Law Firm, our Ontario birth injury lawyers can help you to navigate the claims system. We will handle all of the legal elements of your claim for you, including an investigation and the gathering of evidence to prove a breach of the medical standard of care. To learn more about how we can help, please reach us today for your free case consultation.