Articles Posted in Prematurity

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World Cerebral Palsy Day is a global innovation project created to improve quality of life for people living with cerebral families, and their families. The project is led by a group of non-profit cerebral palsy charities, and supported by organizations in over 45 countries.

Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder caused by abnormalities in parts of the brain that control muscle movements, hearing, vision and cognition. It is the most common physical disability in childhood. The majority of children with cerebral palsy were born with it, although the diagnosis may not be made until a child reaches three years of age. According to en.worldcpday.org, at least two thirds of children with cerebral palsy will have movement difficulties affecting one or both arms, 1 in 4 children with cerebral palsy cannot talk, 1 in 3 cannot walk, 1 in 2 have an intellectual disability, and 1 in 4 have epilepsy. In the most severe cases, children born with cerebral palsy will live their lives dependent upon others for every aspect of daily living.

Causes of cerebral palsy include hypoxia or ischemia during childbirth, genetic disorders, stroke, infection and trauma. Where cerebral palsy is caused by a preventable medical error during labor and delivery, the child and his or her family may have a claim for medical malpractice.
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As discussed in our prior post titled “Premature Birth Injury Topic Of New York Cerebral Palsy Conferences In Syracuse, Binghamton and Watertown,” premature birth is a potentially dangerous pregnancy complication. “Babies born early at are risk for lifelong disabilities like respiratory distress syndrome, persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn and cerebral palsy,” said New York birth injury lawyer Michael A. Bottar, Esq.

According to a recent study published in PLoS Medicine, pregnant women who receive the flu vaccine during pregnancy may be as much as 40% less likely to have a premature birth. Pregnant flu vaccine recipients were also as much as 70% less likely to deliver a low birth weight or “small for gestational age” baby. The results were associated with deliveries during peak flu season.

Researchers suggest that the flu vaccine may prevent respiratory infections during pregnancy — infections which can lead to delivering a small baby, or a preterm baby. Pregnant women are particularly susceptible to the influenza, which can lead to serious injury and death. Generally, this is because a woman’s lung capacity decreases toward the end of pregnancy. In turn, the heart must work harder to circulate oxygenated blood to support the fetus. This extra effort drains a pregnant mother’s body and can make it more difficult for her immune system to fight off the flu.

Other pregnancy, labor and delivery complications include pregnancy-related obesity, which is associated with cesarean delivery, preeclampsia, macrosomia, shoulder dystocia and Erb’s palsy, as well as gestational diabetes and, while rare, pregnancy-related death (typically from post-partum hemorrhaging).
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Persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn is a potentially fatal condition where a baby’s circulatory system fails to adapt to life outside of the womb. According to Michael A. Bottar, Esq., a Syracuse birth injury lawyer with Bottar Leone, PLLC, an upstate New York law firm handling medical malpractice lawsuits through the State, “PPHN accounts for 2-9% of admissions to neonatal intensive care units.”

A baby’s failure to transition from a high pulmonary vascular resistance to a normal low pulmonary vascular resistance causes PPHN. Our team of New York PPHN lawyers is familiar with the labor and delivery complications that are associated with persistent fetal circulation, including meconium aspiration syndrome (MAS), severe intrapartum asphyxia, pulmonary vasoconstriction, hypoxia, acidosis and exposure to SSRIs discussed in our blog post titled “Syracuse New York Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn Lawyers Survey Connection To Birth Injury and SSRIs.” Prompt diagnosis of PPHN is critical because, if timely identified and treated, much of the disease process can be reversed.

A pregnant mother is considered full term at 37 weeks. Until recently, a woman could elect to deliver early by c-section at that time. Recently, published data suggests that babies born at 37 and 38 weeks are at a greater risk for developing respiratory problems and pulmonary hypertension than babies born at 39+ weeks gestation. As a result, doctors in Florida and other states are stopping elective early induction.
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“Consumption of folic acid is very important during pregnancy,” said Michael A. Bottar, Esq., a New York birth injury lawyer presently investigating Syracuse PPHN lawsuits and Watertown retinopathy of prematurity claims. “Folic acid helps to prevent birth defects.”

Folic acid, also known as folate, is a B9 vitamin found mostly in green leafy vegetables. According to a recent UK study, folic acid supplementation during protects against low birth weight babies, as well as neural tube defects (brain and spinal cord defects) such as spina bifida. Repeated studies have shown that women who consume 400 micrograms daily prior to conception, as well as during early pregnancy, may reduce the risk that their baby will be born with a serious neural tube defect by up to 70%.

Babies born premature (i.e., before 37 weeks) are at high risk for respiratory distress and circulatory problems, some of which we discussed in our blog post titled “New York Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn Risk High If Induced Before 39 Weeks.” Babies born premature are also at risk for cerebral palsy, as discussed in our blog post titled “New York Premature Birth Injury Report Card.”
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“Binghamton children born prematurely are at high risk for behavioral and health problems,” said Syracuse birth injury lawyer Michael A. Bottar, Esq., of Bottar Leone, PLLC, a team of trial lawyers handling New York medical malpractice lawsuits sounding in cerebral palsy and global developmental delays.

“Right now we are investigating several claims that involve premature deliveries. Each emergent delivery could have been avoided had medical personnel timely identified the risk of prematurity and taken steps to delay birth.” Even though advancements in medicine have improved preterm newborn survival rates, recent studies have uncovered long-term challenges that preemies will face, such as lower IQ scores and higher rates of behavioral problems including anxiety, depression and hyperactivity. As many as 18% of preterm children had hyperactivity/inattention problems and 14% had anxiety/depression. “Prematurity is also associated with cerebral palsy and other disorders, such as retinopathy of prematurity,” said Bottar.

Appropriate prenatal care is critical to the healthy development of a fetus and to the timely diagnosis of problems with fetal growth and development and conditions affecting pregnant mothers, e.g., preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR). The failure to diagnose preeclampsia can lead to an emergency c-section to prevent irreversible maternal heart damage. Likewise, the failure to diagnose IUGR can lead to a dangerously low-birth weight baby.
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“More than 31,000 babies were born prematurely last year,” said Syracuse birth injury lawyer Michael A. Bottar, Esq., an attorney with Syracuse-based Bottar Leone, PLLC, a team of attorneys representing families throughout New York who have a baby diagnosed with a disability after being born early.

“That means that 12% of infants born in this State are born early.” According to the 2010 March of Dimes Premature Birth report card released last week, New York received a “D” grade because the New York preterm birth rate was greater than 11.3% but less than 13.2%. Premature birth is one of the leading causes of death in newborns, as well as other lifelong health problems including cerebral palsy, global developmental delay, gastrointestinal problems, intraventricular hemorrhaging, respiratory problems, retinopathy of prematurity, blindness and deafness.

Where physicians and nurses fail to protect an unborn baby from the risks of being born early, or from the injuries that may accompany a premature birth, permanent injuries may follow. “While our Syracuse New york birth injury attorneys understand that it is not possible to eliminate preterm births, medicine has advanced to the point where there are modalities available to lessen or mitigate harm.”
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Premature birth is a very serious problem because preemies are at high risk for permanent disability, including lung disease, cerebral palsy, blindness and deafness. According to Anthony S. Bottar, a Syracuse birth injury lawyer representing New York children diagnosed with cerebral palsy following a complicated labor and delivery, “approximately 10% of babies born prematurely will have a permanent disability.”

Preterm births occur in 12% of pregnancies,” Bottar added. November is prematurity awareness month. During prematurity awareness month, many local organizations including Binghamton-based Mothers & Babies, partnered with the March of Dimes to raise awareness about premature birth injuries caused when a baby does not reach 37 weeks of gestation (the threshold for prematurity).

A baby born between 35 and 37 weeks is considered “moderately premature.” A baby born between 29 and 34 weeks is considered “very premature.” A baby born between 24 and 28 weeks is considered “extremely premature.” Extremely premature babies face the greatest challenges. Approximately 17% of babies born at 23 weeks will survive. At 24 and 25 weeks, approximately 39% and 50% will survive, respectively.

Of children born before 26 weeks, statistical disabilities include: 22% severe disability (cerebral palsy but not walking, profoundly low IQ, blindness and/or deafness), 24% moderate disability (cerebral palsy but walking, special needs IQ, some visual or hearing impairment), 34% mild disability (low IQ, slight vision deficits), 20% no problems.
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