In the wake of significant medical advances in regard to assisted reproductive technology (ART), it is no surprise that an increasing amount of couples are having multiple children, including twins, triplets and more. Overall, when a woman is carrying multiple children (whether naturally or through ART), she is at a greater risk of developing a number of serious complications. Her pregnancy, as a result, may be qualified as “high risk.”
While most doctors are able to successfully manage a woman’s pregnancy involving multiples, some lack the training, experience and education necessary to properly address her medical needs. Unfortunately, this can lead to a multitude of complications, including serious birth injuries and even fetal death. If you did not receive the special attention you deserve to manage your high risk multiple gestation pregnancy and either you or your children were injured as a result, please call Stern Law, PLLC at (800)462-5772 to talk about your legal options for free.
What are the complications associated with carrying multiples?
There are a number of complications that can arise as a result of a delayed delivery, such as:
- Pre-term labor – When a woman is carrying multiple children, she has a much greater risk of experiencing pre-term labor. In fact, on average, twins are typically born between 36 and 37 weeks while triplets are usually delivered at 33 to 34 weeks gestation.
- Umbilical cord prolapse – Although statistically this is a very rare event, an umbilical cord prolapse refers to an emergency situation in which the umbilical cord descends through the birth canal before the baby does. This event can cause the umbilical cord to become compressed, cutting off the child’s supply of oxygen and blood.
- Placenta previa – This is a condition where the placenta either partially or fully covers the cervix. If close to delivery, a doctor may decide to perform a Cesarean section to avoid vaginal birth-related complications.
- Preeclampsia – Also known as toxemia, preeclampsia is a serious condition that develops during pregnancy, which is marked by sustained periods of high blood pressure (typically readings exceeding 140/90 mm Hg) and high urine protein levels (known as proteinuria). The reason why protein shows up in a pregnant woman’s urine is because the condition causes blood vessels to leak protein to various parts of the body, including the bladder.
- Post-partum hemorrhage – This often occurs when a woman sustains vaginal lacerations during a cesarean section or by natural causes in a vaginal delivery. Bleeding can also arise as a result of a placental abruption, placenta previa, uterine rupture, and other types of trauma.
- Congenital abnormalities – Having multiple children raises the risk of giving birth to children with these medical issues, such as Down Syndrome and Cystic Fibrosis.
- Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS) – This complication can arise during pregnancy due to the fact that multiples, such as twins and triplets, have separate amniotic sacs yet they share one placenta. Specifically, TTTS can arise where blood moves from one twin to the other while in utero, resulting in serious complications if not immediately treated.
- Cerebral palsy
- Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy
- Periventricular leukomalacia
- Developmental delay – A lack of oxygen, which can occur more frequently in a pregnancy involving multiples, can cause delays in a child’s motor, physical and mental development.
- Brachial Plexus Injuries – When a woman delivers multiple children vaginally, the children are more likely to sustain certain types of injuries to the network of nerves that control movement in the neck, shoulders, arms and hands. Erb's palsy or Klumpke's palsy could result depending on the location of the injury.
- Seizure disorders – When multiple children are involved, there is a greater chance that a child’s oxygen supply may become compromised during labor and delivery. As a result, certain seizure disorders may arise due to the lack of oxygen and other complications associated therewith.
- Paralysis – A lack of fetal oxygen is one of the ways in which a fetus can be partially or fully paralyzed at birth. The risk of oxygen deprivation among multiple children is greater than with a single pregnancy, leading to this serious and life threatening complication.
- Mental retardation – Sustained periods of little to no oxygen is one of the primary ways in which an otherwise healthy multiple children can become mentally disabled at birth.
Multiple gestation and medical malpractice
The complications associated with a pregnancy involving multiples are caused by a multitude of different factors. However, many involve the following cases of medical negligence (whether caused by a physician, hospital or other medical practitioners):
- Failure to enlist the help of obstetric specialists to assist a woman with a multiple gestation pregnancy
- Failure to recognize when a child is in a breech or otherwise abnormal position
- Failure to conduct certain diagnostic tests that would have readily demonstrated a fetal health condition or abnormality
- Improperly trained doctors and staff
- Not having enough doctors and/or staff to assist a woman in labor with multiples
- Failure to move forward with a vaginal delivery
- Delayed decision to perform a Cesarean section
- Failure to monitor for and/or detect fetal distress
- Improper usage of a vacuum extractor or forceps
- Failure to administer oxygen to a newborn in distress
- Failure to diagnose a pregnancy related medical condition such as gestational diabetes or preeclampsia
- Faulty or improperly used fetal monitoring equipment
- Failure to diagnose and treat pregnancy, labor and delivery complications associated with a multiple gestation pregnancy
- Failure to detect and address certain fetal conditions that may cause a delayed delivery
- Miscalculation of a baby’s size or the amount of children present in the womb, leading to potential labor and delivery complications
- Improper administration of Pitocin or Cytotec, which are medications used to induce labor
- Failure to respond to the signs and symptoms of a delayed delivery
Sometimes when a woman carrying multiples experiences medical complications, no one may be at fault. However, if you suspect that you, your twins, triplets or more were injured as a result of a negligent medical professional or hospital, it is important to know that you are not alone. Stern Law, PLLC has been speaking up for children and families injured by malpractice for more than three decades. Our team would be pleased to review your case for free: Call (800)462-5772 today.