Birth injuries occur under a number of circumstances. One common cause of harm to babies results from complications of preterm delivery. Premature births cost Americans $26 billion a year, and often result in devastating lifelong injuries to newborns. In an effort to bring awareness to the problem, the March of Dimes issues an annual report card grading individual States on their success in reducing the numbers of premature births. Though the overall rate of premature births in the U.S. has declined in recent years, Ohio received only a grade of “C” for its efforts in reducing the rate of preterm delivery.
According to the March of Dimes, with a grade of “C,” we still have “a long way to go in reducing our rate of premature birth.” The March of Dimes brought awareness to this problem because of huge healthcare costs associated with taking care of premies and the catastrophic personal costs associated with long-term disability. Also, our rates of preterm labor and delivery are far worse than most of the civilized world. This means that, in many cases, premature delivery is preventable.
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Birth injuries related to prematurity are not always preventable. However, in some cases, they may be, such as through proper prenatal care, treatment of infection, use of a cerclage to manage an incompetent cervix, and progesterone therapy to delay early contractions. When a premature delivery is preventable, but is not prevented due to errors by labor and delivery caregivers (e.g., OB, obstetrician, doula, midwife, etc.), a claim for medical malpractice may exist.