Birth injury related to mismanagement of preeclampsia has been well-studied and reported on. Preeclampsia is a common condition affecting many pregnant women both during pregnancy and during the postpartum period. It affects 5-8% of all pregnancies in the U.S. While it can be asymptomatic in some women, symptoms may include high blood pressure, headaches, nausea, vomiting, swelling or sudden weight gain, and/or visual disturbances. Typically, it occurs in middle to late pregnancy, but can occur in early pregnancy. Testing includes urinalysis to look for protein in the urine. If left untreated, it can rapidly progress, leading to seizures and possibly death of the mother and fetus. Treatment centers on delivery of the baby.
Risk Factors for Preeclampsia
Screening patients for risk factors is an important part of standard prenatal care. Risk factors include the following:
- Being over the age of 40
- Being under the age of 20
- Carrying twins or other multiples
- High blood pressure before pregnancy
- Being diagnosed with preeclampsia during a previous pregnancy
- Having other medical conditions, including diabetes, kidney disease, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis
A recent British Medical Journal article identified clinical characteristics that put patients at higher risk for preeclampsia, and supports the use of aspirin as a preventative measure. Thus, screening is an important tool for identifying pregnant women who are at high risk and might benefit from early treatment and education about the condition. For more information, the Preeclampsia Foundation maintains a website with useful information about the condition.
Medical negligence cases involving mismanagement of women with preeclampsia involve either the failure to diagnose the condition, a delay in diagnosis, a delay in treating preeclampsia, or failure to properly respond in the face of fetal distress. We have blogged before about the dangers of preeclampsia and how it can put babies’ lives at risk. As Ohio birth injury lawyers, we are familiar with cases where cerebral palsy or fetal demise results due to mismanagement of this common condition.
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