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Dangerous Infections At Birth

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Preventable Infections Can Be a Serious Risk During Pregnancy and Birth

An infection can be a life-threatening event for a newborn childWith the help of modern medicine, fighting infections is a much easier task now then it was in the past. However, for newborn babies, it is a very different story. Babies can develop infections before, during, or after birth. These infections can be very serious because their underdeveloped immune systems are not equipped to fight off the harmful bacteria or viruses.

Infections of any kind can seriously jeopardize a pregnancy or cause serious injuries to both mother and baby. Obstetricians, nurses and other medical personnel carry the responsibility of monitoring the health of both mother and child to ensure that infections do not cause any problems. It is also important to monitor the baby’s health in the first few weeks after delivery. Any failure in that responsibility could leave the child with an illness that could have lifelong consequences. It is critical that doctors accurately diagnose and treat any infections before they cause irreversible damage.

Types of Infections That Affect Newborn Babies

Newborn infections generally can be divided into the following three categories:

  • Congenital infections. These infections are transferred from mother to baby during pregnancy. Examples of congenital infections include E. coli, listeriosis, German measles (rubella), chicken pox, and toxoplasmosis.
  • Perinatal infections. These infections are transmitted during labor or delivery. These typically include sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) like human papillomavirus (HPV), gonorrhea, or chlamydia. Other infections that are transmitted during these moments can include a group B streptococcal disease (GBS), a common bacterium that causes pneumonia, sepsis, or meningitis, as well as infections caused by fecal matter contamination.
  • Postnatal infections. These infections can be spread to the baby after childbirth. Some are transferred from mother to baby through breastfeeding. Others are caused by unsanitary hospital conditions.

However, no matter when or how a newborn baby is exposed to harmful bacteria, the risks are significant.

The Effects of Infection for Newborn or Unborn Children

These kinds of infections, if left undetected or untreated in a newborn, have the potential to cause potentially life-threatening or life-long complications, such as:

  • Meningitis
  • Hearing loss
  • Epilepsy
  • Blindness
  • Neurological problems
  • Respiratory problems
  • Fetal developmental defects
  • Learning disorders
  • Behavioral disorders
  • Other complications

What Role Do Doctors and Mothers-to-Be Play in Preventing Babies From Getting Sick?

There are many ways that infections in newborns can be prevented. One simple thing everyone can do to help prevent the spread of infectious diseases is to practice good hand-washing habits, especially when interacting with a pregnant mother or newborn. Although hand washing is not a “magic cure-all” for infection prevention, it is a very simple first step toward keeping babies safe and healthy.

In addition, mothers-to-be can help reduce the risk of a dangerous infection by:

  • Obtaining proper prenatal care from a qualified healthcare provider, such as an obstetrician, family doctor, or midwife.
  • Following recommended immunization schedules for both children and adults.
  • Avoiding travel to foreign locations where viruses and bacteria unique to the area can cause harm to pregnant women or newborn babies.
  • Maintaining appropriate hygiene.

While not every infection is the fault of the doctor and medical staff, the truth is that many infections can be prevented with appropriate care and screening. In the majority of cases, it is possible to screen for infections that could pass from the mother to her baby and avoid other risks for birth infections. Screening should be standard procedure leading up to the birth to ensure that any infections in the mother are treated so that they are not passed on to the baby during birth, and healthcare providers should monitor for other infection risks. If they don’t, there can be serious consequences. Some steps doctors might take include:

  • Taking precautions based on known maternal pre-existing conditions to prevent the spread of infection between mother and baby. Recommendations may include medication, lifestyle changes, and alternative birthing plans.
  • Carefully monitoring and testing for infection when there is a risk.
  • Treating infections in the mother promptly and appropriately.
  • Avoiding medication that may increase the risk of infection.
  • Using appropriate safety procedures during delivery or other procedures during pregnancy.

Unfortunately, these newborn infection prevention strategies do not guarantee that a baby will escape contracting a serious infection before, during, or after birth.

Getting Answers to Your Legal Questions About Preventable Birth Infections

At the law firm of Lane & Lane, our attorneys have represented clients throughout Illinois whose children have suffered from an infection at birth. We understand how infections develop in a newborn, and we know that there are many factors that lead up to a dangerous birth infection. When families come to us with concerns about their medical treatment or doctors after a birth infection, we conduct a thorough investigation into the circumstances of the birth and the mother’s medical treatment prior to delivery.

If your baby suffered a severe birth injury that may have been caused by the careless or negligent acts of a medical provider, contact an attorney with Lane & Lane today for legal assistance. Our compassionate and knowledgeable attorneys regularly help victims of medical malpractice and birth injuries obtain the compensation they deserve, and we would be happy to speak with you about your concerns. Simply call 888-484-9881 to schedule your complimentary case evaluation and start getting answers.

by Olivia A. Sarmas

Representing the Seriously Injured in Illinois

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