As a Houston, Texas medical malpractice attorney, I’ve investigated and filed a lot of cases involving birth injuries. Through this experience, I’ve noticed some common themes in these sad and tragic cases.
Labor and delivery birth injuries
In some cases, the babies were injured just before birth because of placenta or other problems that caused fetal distress, leading to a hypoxic/ischemic injury. We call these acute conditions. In this type of injury, there’s not enough oxygen getting to the brain and vital organs, which causes permanent damage.
When OB/GYN physicians, midwives, and labor and delivery nurses see signs of fetal distress, it’s a medical emergency. It usually means that there should be an emergency delivery by C-Section. If they’re slow in responding, it may be negligence and can mean the different between a safe delivery of a healthy baby, and a baby being born with a permanent brain injury.
Birth injuries linked to conditions earlier in pregnancy
In other cases, the condition causing the injury gradually developed well before the mom went into labor and delivery. These are called chronic conditions. A few examples immediately come to mind from cases I’ve handled where prenatal providers botched the diagnosis of chronic conditions and as a result the babies were permanently injured.
I’ve handled cases where the baby suffered from intrauterine growth restriction from the early stages of pregnancy. Another example comes to mind from a case that I successfully resolved for my clients—Rh-incompatibility of the mother and baby. This led to an autoimmune response where the mom’s immune system attacked and destroyed over 80% of the baby’s red blood cells. It’s a true miracle that the baby even survived!
With good prenatal care, these types of conditions should be diagnosed and treated early in the pregnancy. It’s the mom’s responsibility to go in for prenatal care. It’s a physician responsibility to look out for these dangerous conditions.
Illnesses and medications during pregnancy
In medical malpractice lawsuits involving birth or brain injuries of babies, one area that’s always investigated by both sides is what was going on during the pregnancy. This leads to questions like these:
· When did the mom start prenatal care (seeing an OB/GYN doctor for regular checkups during pregnancy) and did she consistently go to her appointments?
· Did the mom have any illnesses during the pregnancy? If so, what medications did she take?
Many medications that are available to treat a fever, common cold, or pain are simply too dangerous to take during pregnancy. That’s why it’s important for expecting mothers to contact their doctor for recommendations before taking any prescription or over-the-counter drug during pregnancy. I bet every pregnant mom (or nervous dad) has had this type of question when the mom gets sick while carrying the baby.
In my experience, many OB/GYN doctors tell their patients that acetaminophen (Tylenol) is generally safe for pregnant moms to take if they have a headache, cold, or fever. Recent medical research has shown that even this common medication has its limits during pregnancy.
An Israeli research team recently published their analysis of seven different studies, accounting for over 130,000 mother-child pairs. They found that the children of moms who over-used acetaminophen during pregnancy had an increased risk for developing autism or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
An OB/GYN commenting on the study results concluded that it’s still riskier for moms to have an untreated fever than to use acetaminophen responsibly. The big picture is that it’s likely okay to take acetaminophen occasionally, but not every day or throughout pregnancy.
Both as a medical negligence lawyer and father of four children, I recommend that moms seek prenatal care from an experienced OB/GYN as early as possible in a pregnancy. A good OB/GYN knows what to look out for and will take measurements, perform ultrasound scans, and document exam findings to make sure that the pregnancy stays on track. Then, of course, if something looks concerning, the OB/GYN should make recommendations to keep the baby and mom safe.
We are here to help
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured because of poor prenatal, hospital, or medical care, click here to send us a confidential email via our “Contact Us” form or call us at 281-580-8800.
All consultations are free, and, because we only represent clients on a contingency fee, you will owe us nothing unless we win your case. We handle cases in the Houston area and all over Texas. We are currently working on medical malpractice lawsuits in Houston, The Woodlands, Sugar Land, Conroe, Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, Corpus Christi, Bryan/College Station, and Waco.
Robert Painter is a medical malpractice attorney at Painter Law Firm PLLC, in Houston, Texas. He is a former hospital administrator who represents patients and family members in medical negligence and wrongful death lawsuits against hospitals, physicians, surgeons, anesthesiologists, and other healthcare providers. A member of the board of directors of the Houston Bar Association, he was honored, in 2018, by H Texas as one of Houston’s top lawyers. Also, in 2018, the Better Business Bureau recognized Painter Law Firm PLLC with its Award of Distinction.