How to recover compensation if your baby suffered a birth injury from low amniotic fluid levels
During pregnancy, it’s extremely important that you schedule and attend regular prenatal checkups. Even if you’re feeling great and have no reason to believe that anything could be wrong, prenatal care can identify potential issues early on to help prevent serious health problems and birth injuries. One example of this is a condition called oligohydramnios.
What is oligohydramnios?
Throughout pregnancy, your baby lives inside a membrane called an amniotic sac. This sac is filled with amniotic fluid meant to cushion and protect your baby as it grows and is essential to a baby’s health while in the uterus.
Amniotic fluid is created by the baby’s kidneys and lungs. The baby ingests it and expels it as urine, after which it’s removed from the amniotic sac by the placenta. The amniotic fluid helps the baby’s kidneys, lungs and gastrointestinal system to develop and grow properly.
Oligohydramnios is a condition in which your baby is not surrounded by an adequate amount of amniotic fluid during pregnancy.
What causes oligohydramnios?
Oligohydramnios can occur for a number of reasons. Oftentimes, there is an insufficient amount of amniotic fluid produced by the baby’s kidneys and lungs. It can also be caused by certain health issues that can decrease the amount of amniotic fluid in the amniotic sac, including:
- Inadequate growth of the baby in utero
- Being pregnant with maternal (identical) twins who share the same placenta (known as twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome)
- A pregnancy that lasts beyond its projected due date
- Early amniotic sac rupture (also known as water breaking) before it’s time for the baby to be born, resulting in the loss of fluid
- Birth defects that cause problems with the kidneys or urinary tract
- Placental abruption, in which the placenta becomes detached from the inner uterine wall prior to labor and delivery
- Certain medications such as angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
- Health conditions such as diabetes and hypertension
What are the symptoms of oligohydramnios?
The signs of oligohydramnios can vary between individuals. They may appear to be symptoms of other less serious health issues. Therefore, it’s imperative to report any unusual symptoms to your healthcare provider right away. Symptoms of oligohydramnios can include:
- A low volume of amniotic fluid, as indicated by an ultrasound image
- A disproportionately small uterus in comparison to measurement norms at various stages of pregnancy
- Leaking of the amniotic fluid (possibly mistaken for discharge or urine leakage), which may indicate a tear in the amniotic sac
- A decrease in the baby’s movement
Is oligohydramnios common?
Oligohydramnios affects approximately 4 percent of pregnant women. Although this condition can occur at any point during pregnancy, the most common time for onset is during the 3rd trimester.
In women who exceed their due date by 2 weeks or longer, the chances of developing oligohydramnios increase to approximately 12 percent. This is due to the decrease in amniotic fluid that occurs during the final 3 months of pregnancy.
How is oligohydramnios diagnosed?
The 1st step in diagnosing this condition will involve your healthcare provider reviewing your health history. A physical examination will follow and will usually include an ultrasound exam. Pockets of amniotic fluid will be measured to determine levels.
In cases where there is a birth defect that is affecting the baby’s bladder or kidneys, oligohydramnios can often be determined by an ultrasound exam at 20 weeks or earlier.
How is oligohydramnios treated?
Treating oligohydramnios has 1 primary focus: to maintain your pregnancy safely and comfortably until you are able to deliver a healthy, full-term baby with no complications. Your treatment plan will be determined by factors such as your overall health, your specific symptoms and their severity, and other details related to your pregnancy.
The most common treatment options include:
- More frequent medical checkups.
- Regular testing to keep a close eye on the amount of amniotic fluid present.
- Amnioinfusion, in which fluid is injected into the amniotic sac to increase the amount of fluid surrounding the baby. This procedure is only done during labor once your water has broken.
What are the possible complications of oligohydramnios?
Potential complications of low amniotic fluid during pregnancy include:
- Pulmonary hypoplasia. Amniotic fluid is essential for the healthy development of your baby’s lungs. If your baby is deprived of an adequate amount of amniotic fluid over a long period of time, their lungs may fail to fully develop, or they may develop abnormally. The medical term for this condition is pulmonary hypoplasia.
- Inadequate growth. An insufficient amount of amniotic fluid can prevent the baby from growing as it should, which affects the healthy development of the umbilical cord. When this happens, the baby is unable to get adequate, life-sustaining nutrients and oxygen.
- Meconium aspiration syndrome. A low volume of amniotic fluid can also result in the baby’s first bowel movement being inhaled into its lungs. This substance, called meconium, can potentially cause blockage of the baby’s airways at birth and is a leading cause of death and severe illness in newborns.
- Premature birth, miscarriage and stillbirth. If oligohydramnios occurs during the first 6 months of pregnancy, extremely serious complications such as premature birth, stillbirth or miscarriage can result.
When to contact a birth injury attorney
In addition to the possibility of death, oligohydramnios can cause severe health issues that require life-long medical care and treatment. If you believe your baby suffered a birth injury because of undiagnosed or mismanaged treatment of oligohydramnios, you may be entitled to compensation.
At Brown Trial Firm, attorney Laura Brown has helped parents all across the U.S. recover the compensation they deserve after a life-altering birth injury. Her entire practice is dedicated to fighting for the rights of families affected by birth injuries.
All of her services are provided on a contingency fee basis, which means that you won’t have to pay hourly, and you’ll pay nothing out of pocket. Contact her today for a free consultation of your case.
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