High-Risk Pregnancy: An Overview

If mother and/or child are at risk of pregnancy complications, it may be considered a high-risk pregnancy. This means that the medical staff needs to take extra precautions and do whatever is in their power to manage potential issues and secure the best possible outcome for mother and baby. If they do not, an Ohio medical malpractice attorney can build a case that establishes the staff’s negligence.

There are many health issues that can arise during pregnancy or become worse during pregnancy and labor. The following is a brief overview of some of the conditions that can cause a pregnancy to be considered high-risk. 

Infertility Treatments & High-risk Pregnancy 

Many couples who are struggling with infertility have sought treatments to help them get pregnant. These treatments are sometimes quite effective, but could lead to high-risk pregnancy.

Infertility treatments themselves do not make a pregnancy high-risk, but if the woman was receiving treatments because of a pre-existing condition that made it difficult to become pregnant, and this condition hasn’t been resolved, then her pregnancy could present problems.

Because many women seeking help with infertility are over 35, they may be at higher risk for some pregnancy complications – high blood pressure, diabetes – that need to be taken into consideration and addressed by health care professionals before and during the treatment process.

Infertility treatments also have a higher chance of resulting in twins, triplets, and other multiples. Carrying multiples does put a woman in the high-risk category because of the extra strain of carrying more than one fetus puts on the uterus and on all the systems of her body. 

Pregnancy Complications: Gestational Diabetes 

Gestational diabetes occurs when the woman’s pancreas becomes unable to produce sufficient insulin to keep up with the hormonal changes of pregnancy, causing her blood sugar to increase to abnormal levels. This is a temporary type of diabetes that generally resolves itself after the baby is born, but it can cause problems during the pregnancy and birth.

Babies born to mothers with gestational diabetes can be large, making for difficult and complicated delivery. They are also at a higher risk for jaundice and breathing problems after birth.

Doctors should closely watch the pregnancies of moms with gestational diabetes, be sure their blood sugar is checked often, and suggest helpful dietary changes. Inadequate care may require may lead parents to seek consultation with an Ohio medical malpractice lawyer to review options for legal action if the mother or child is injured because of the poor care.

Pregnancy Complications: Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR) 

During a pregnancy, healthcare providers routinely measure the mother’s uterus as well as the size of the baby to make sure that all is growing normally. These measurements usually take place during regular prenatal check-ups once every four weeks or so.

Sometimes, they’ll find that for whatever reason, the baby is not growing the way it should, which may indicate a high-risk pregnancy; this can be caused by various medical conditions in the mother including: 

  • placenta problems;
  • malnourishment;
  • drug or alcohol abuse; and
  • more.

A baby that is smaller than gestational age can experience problems during and after birth, for example, the baby may have: 

  • trouble maintaining a normal body temperature;
  • lowered resistance to infection; or
  • low red blood cell count.

A mother whose baby is growth-restricted may need to deliver the baby early; this is especially true if the woman’s health is at risk or if the health care provider does not think the baby could handle the stress of labor.

Pregnancy Complications: Eclampsia/Preeclampsia 

Eclampsia and preeclampsia are conditions that involve high blood pressure in the mother. This condition is thought to be related to problems with the placenta, although the exact triggers and roots causes are still unknown.

Some risk factors for eclampsia include: 

  • a young mother (teen moms);
  • an old mother (over 40);
  • obesity; and
  • a history of high blood pressure. 

In addition to elevated blood pressure. Preeclampsia involves elevated protein in the urine as well as swelling of the hands and feet.

Some women experience swelling in their whole bodies and have seizures as well. When this happens, the preeclampsia is then considered ecalmpsia, a more serious version of the condition that can lead to serious complications and even death.

A doctor may suggest dietary changes and medication to keep the blood pressure under control, and will monitor the fetus’s growth and wellbeing to determine whether there is a need for an early delivery. Sometimes, if preeclampsia is mild, dietary changes and rest are all that’s necessary, but it’s important for healthcare professionals to keep an eye on any changes that might signal worsening of the condition. Failure to do so may be used as evidence by an Ohio medical malpractice attorney that the healthcare professional acted negligently.

Other Conditions That Can Lead to a High-Risk Pregnancy 

If the mother had previous pregnancy complications a subsequent pregnancy may be treated as a high-risk pregnancy and monitored to try and prevent these issues from happening again, such as: 

  • miscarriages;
  • premature birth;
  • placenta previa/abruption; or
  • birth defects.

It’s important for doctors, midwives, nurses, and other health professionals involved in the patient’s case to all work together, compare notes and do all they can to stay on top of the high-risk pregnancy.

Physician Error and Legal Recourse with an Ohio Medical Malpractice Attorney

While there are some maternal and fetal health problems that cannot be completely avoided, there are others that with the proper care and monitoring can be prevented or at the very least managed. Unfortunately, there are times when medical professionals miss certain signs, misdiagnose conditions, or fail to follow up on courses of treatment.

When this happens, pregnancy complications may cause long-lasting injuries to the mother or child that may require legal action with an Ohio medical malpractice attorney to recover compensation for damages.

If you or a loved one has suffered a serious illness or injury related to complications from a high-risk pregnancy, and you feel it was because of a doctor’s negligence, you should contact an Ohio medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible to review the circumstances of care provided for your high-risk pregnancy and any complications.