Maternal infections that go undetected or worse yet, untreated, during pregnancy can result in catastrophic injuries to an unborn child.
Infections can be transmitted in a variety of ways – through the placenta, through the bloodstream or through the birth canal during delivery – and can result in lifelong disability.
Dangerous Maternal Infections
While not all maternal infections are linked to birth injuries, those that are can result in serious injuries for your baby.
Some questions to ask your doctor about if he or she fails to bring them up include:
- Also known as German measles, most people are vaccinated for rubella due to the risk factors associated with it. Rubella symptoms – flu-like symptoms accompanied by a rash that lasts three or more days – are usually evident, but some people can have the infection and present no symptoms at all. Doctors should test pregnant women for rubella early in the pregnancy, because in the majority of cases – 90 percent, according to the National Institutes of Health – there will be no negative impact on the child if it is addressed early in the pregnancy. Potential birth injuries associated with rubella that goes undetected include inflammation of the brain, cerebral palsy, heart problems, vision and hearing problems, cognitive disabilities, bone and growth problems and organ damage. It can also lead to miscarriage, premature birth or stillbirth.
- Chicken Pox. While most people develop chicken pox as a child, some fail to be exposed to the virus until adulthood. For a pregnant mother, the virus can be especially problematic. While a chicken pox diagnosis during the first trimester of pregnancy usually results in no birth injuries, chicken pox diagnosed during the second or third trimester has a higher risk of birth injuries including cognitive disabilities, developmental delays and congenital varicella syndrome, a rare disorder that causes abnormalities of the skin, brain, arms, legs, and eyes, potentially including cataracts.
- Group B Strep. Group B strep is a bacterial infection that can be found in the vagina and can spread to an infant during delivery. It impacts as many as 25 percent of all women, and if it is untreated or undetected, it can cause serious injuries to an unborn baby including brain injuries, blood poisoning, meningitis, pneumonia or death. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends testing and treatment as early in a pregnancy as possible.
- This sexually-transmitted disease can be transferred in several different ways from mother to baby, including via the placenta or from exposure to sores during a vaginal birth. Syphilis is a serious infection that can lead to vision and hearing loss, malformations of the teeth, neurological problems, low birth weight and death. Because many people can have syphilis with no symptoms, pregnant women should be tested for the disease as early as possible and so they can seek treatment.
- Pregnant women are told to stay away from cat litter because cat feces are one of the places where the parasites that cause toxoplasmosis can be found. Contaminated soil and undercooked meats are also sources of the parasite. Symptoms include flu-like symptoms, although there can be none at all. Precautions including cooking meats thoroughly, washing fruits and vegetables in hot water and finding someone else to change the cat litter can help prevent contact with the parasite. Toxoplasmosis is dangerous for infants and can cause intellectual disabilities as well as hearing loss and blindness. If a pregnant woman develops toxoplasmosis, they should be treated with antibiotics to help prevent transmission of the parasite to the unborn baby.
- Urinary Tract Infection. While a urinary tract infection is unlikely to impact a child in utero, it can spread from the mother’s urethra or bladder to her kidneys, which has the potential to trigger premature birth. Problems associated with preemies include underdeveloped organs, low birth weight, respiratory problems due to underdeveloped lungs, and learning and developmental disabilities.
- Hepatitis B Virus. Infants exposed to hepatitis B have a 90 percent chance of developing health problems, especially problems associated with the liver. Pregnant women should be tested for the virus as early in the pregnancy as possible so it can be treated. If expectant moms are not tested early in their pregnancy they should be tested before they give birth because the virus can be passed during childbirth. If hepatitis B is present, a cesarean section can be scheduled.
Maternal Infection and Medical Negligence/Birth Injury
If your doctor failed to detect a maternal infection and your baby was injured as a result, it’s important to contact an experienced injury attorney to hold those responsible for your child’s injuries accountable.
Because birth injuries such as cerebral palsy, deafness and blindness and developmental delays can be costly, an attorney can help you recover compensation to cover the costs associated with your child’s care, relieving you of the financial burden caused by a problem that was not your fault.
Our tenacious team can help with both insurance negotiations as well as jury trials and will do our best to secure a fair settlement in your case.
Your consultation is free, and you won’t be charged until we successfully settle your case.