Preterm Birth Risk FactorsRisk Factors for Preterm Birth

There are numerous risk factors for preterm birth.  These involve behavioral, environmental and maternal health conditions.  There is some overlap as well as causal connections between them.

Most risk factors are detectable through basic prenatal care.  There are others that are not.  The bottom line is that preterm birth is not always avoidable.  Likewise, preterm birth in no way by itself suggests medical negligence.  In fact, the great majority of the time, medical negligence will have nothing to do with it.

Medical Records are Key to Evaluation of a Medical Malpractice Claim

To determine what happened and whether harm to the baby and/or mother could have been avoided, it is necessary to review the medical records.  Once the attorney has reviewed them, it is then necessary to have the appropriate medical expert review them more thoroughly.

Keep in mind that the list below is a short list and it is by no means to be construed as medical advice.  Instead, these are the types of things an experienced medical malpractice attorney would be looking for in the medical records to determine if there was medical negligence in failing to account for, monitor and treat these conditions to minimize the risks of preterm birth.

If preterm birth led to serious harm or death to the baby or the mother, it is important to understand what happened.  To do this, it is typically necessary to seek the aid of an experienced medical malpractice attorney.  Collins & Collins, P.C. can be reached at (505) 242-5958 .

Risk Factors Related to Pregnancy Itself

1.    Prior preterm births:  prior preterm births are predictors of future preterm births.  This information should be in the medical history.  If for some reason it is not, it should be reported to the medical providers immediately

2.    Assisted reproductive technology (APR): This too should be in the medical records.  Presumably, there is some continuity of care between the APR, prenatal care, and delivery.

3.    Carrying more than one baby:  This one should be readily detected through ultrasounds and other diagnostics.   The use of APR is a strong predictor of multiple children. However, it is certainly not present in all multiple births.

Physical Signs Suggesting Risks of Preterm Birth

1.    Extremely low or high maternal weight:  Both of these should be readily apparent to the medical providers.  They should charted and monitored carefully to lessen the risks of preterm birth to the degree possible

2.    High maternal blood pressure:  Blood pressure is tested prior to every medical visit in competent and professional medical offices.  If it is not, then you already have warning signs that you might not be under the best of care.  High blood pressure can result from a number of sources.  It can also be an indicator of other serious problems.

3.    Drug, alcohol and tobacco use:  These issues are likely present in medical charts and records.  The mother is largely responsible for these.  The only thing a doctor can do here is provide medical guidance regarding the dangers to the baby.

Risk Factors Detectable Through Prenatal Care

Others should be routinely tested for if there is any indication of its presence such as:

1.      Diabetes:  Diabetes can be very serious during pregnancy.  It can both preexist the pregnancy and arise during the pregnancy.  Every expectant mother should undergo blood testing which should detect it.  The necessity for follow up and/or regular blood testing will depend upon the circumstances.  However, medical providers should be alert to any symptoms or suggestions of diabetes.

2.      Pre-eclampsia:  Pre-eclampsia can be extremely serious.  It is poses a high risk for preterm birth along with other issues.  There are many symptoms that strongly suggest testing to determine if it is present.  High maternal blood pressure is chief among them.

3.  Infections:  There are a variety of infections that increase the risk of preterm birth.  The list is rather lengthy including vaginal infections, intrauterine infections, bacterial infections, urinary tract infections to name just a few.  Mothers should err on the side of caution seeking medical attention when there are any signs that she may be suffering from any kind of infection.  A medical provider can help only if he or she is alerted to the problem.

There are many sources of valuable information on preterm birth from which this article was drawn including: