About Premature Birth Injuries

 

One in every 8 babies (12.5%) in the United States is born premature.  Prematurity, usually considered the same thing as preterm, is defined as more than three weeks before term.  Any baby born before 37 weeks is considered premature.  However, some health care providers stress that the premature label should be used more sparingly, and that a baby born at 36 weeks, for example, might not be premature if her lungs and other organs are fully developed.

Prematurity Statistics

    • There are over 500,000 premature births every year in the United States
    • Over the past 36 years, the premature birth rate has increased 36% (though, this is partially due to advances in medical technology which allow for emergency preterm delivery when other serious complications are present)
    • November is Prematurity Awareness Month

Risk Factors for Premature Delivery

Premature delivery has many known risk factors, including:

    • Previous preterm births
    • African-American mother
    • Smoking, alcohol, and other drug use
    • Obesity or underweight mother
    • Incompetent/ineffectual cervix

Birth Injuries Caused by Prematurity

However it is defined, babies who are premature are at a higher risk of numerous complications:

    • Vision and hearing loss
    • Digestive injuries
    • Respiratory difficulties
    • Death (preterm delivery is the largest cause of infant death)

Preventing Premature Labor

Women should monitor their own condition throughout pregnancy, and should alert their doctors at the first possible signs of labor.  Doctors and their staff should have the training necessary to recognize potential preterm labor (which may include contractions, change in vaginal discharge, increased pressure in the pelvis, backache, and cramping), and must follow standard guidelines to prevent premature birth, when possible.

In order to prevent preterm labor from causing premature delivery, careful doctors may need to provide medication to stop contractions, to speed up the baby’s lung development, and to prevent infection (because a premature baby’s immune system may not be fully developed).  Doctors typically impose requirements of bed rest, pelvic rest (abstaining from sex) and increased fluids, though modern studies are debating whether those actions are effective at preventing preterm labor.  Finally, doctors may surgically close the cervix to prevent early delivery (cervical cerclage).

Contact Us

If your baby was born premature, contact our medical malpractice lawyers at (855) 712-7818 or online for a free consultation.  Our lawyers have investigated hundreds of birth injury cases involving premature delivery, and we have the medical expertise to evaluate your labor and delivery medical records—at no cost to you.

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