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Stillbirth - Medical Malpractice Lawyer

LEGAL HELPLINE: ☎ 855 804 7125

If you choose our lawyers to represent you in your Stillborn Death claim, we will provide committed and vigorous representation on your behalf. You will receive a complete professional service from lawyers who specialize in claiming compensation for Stillbirth and Newborn Death caused as a result of a medical malpractice. If you would like advice at no cost without obligation from a medical malpractice lawyer just call the helpline or complete the contact form or email our offices and a stillbirth medical malpractice lawyer will telephone you at the first possible opportunity.
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Stillbirth and Newborn Death - Overview

A stillbirth is defined as a condition where the fetus has died in the uterus. After this event has occurred, the mother may have contractions and undergo a "normal" childbirth. Most, stillbirths happen in full term pregnancies but a stillbirth is defined as having a fetal death after the 20th week gestation.

Approximately 1 in 160 pregnancies end in stillbirth. The cause of this high rate is completely unknown even in cases when there has been extensive testing and autopsy following the death. The medical term for still birth is “sudden antenatal death syndrome” or SADS. Only about 40 percent of the autopsied cases end in an actual diagnosis of the cause of the stillbirth.

Some possibilities of stillbirth causes include bacterial infection, birth defects, chromosomal abnormalities, growth retardation, intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy, maternal diabetes, high blood pressure, preeclampsia, use of recreational drugs, pharmaceutical drugs contraindicated in pregnancy, postdate pregnancy, placental abruption, physical trauma to the mother, radiation poisoning and Rh disease. In other countries and cultures, it is believed that female genital mutilation can cause an increased risk of stillbirth.

Other causes are umbilical cord accidents, such as entanglements of the cords in twin pregnancies. The cord can prolapse, meaning that is pushed out of the cervix ahead of the fetal head. The head compresses the cord and the baby lacks oxygen. The mother has approximately 10 minutes to get the baby out before it suffers from any kind of damage or death. A short umbilical cord can cause rupture or constriction of the cord and fetal death. A long cord can be a problem because it is more likely to tie itself into a knot and constrict fetal oxygenation. The cord can become entangled around an extremity, around the body or around the neck of the fetus. These kinds of entanglements can lead to constriction of blood supply to the fetus. Torsion of the cord is also a problem. This is a twisting of the umbilical cord around itself. It is a normal phenomenon but if in excess can cause a lack of oxygen to the fetus.

It isn’t known how much time is needed for a fetus to die. Doctors make use of movement or kick charts to see if there is any change indicative of fetal distress. Fetal movement is an indication of fetal distress. Doctors also do a nonstress test, which looks at the fetal heart acceleration with movement. A stress test is done by giving the woman medications to trigger contraction and after three contractions in several minutes, there should be no evidence of fetal distress. This can tell if the fetus is healthy enough to tolerate contractions. If there are abnormalities, the doctor can consider delivering early, either by vaginal delivery or cesarean section. An ultrasound can look for the amount of amniotic fluid. If it gets low, this can be a sign of fetal problems and delivery needs to happen sooner rather than later.

During a period of constricted umbilical cord, the fetus experiences periods of hypoxia. It may struggle and kick more in an attempt to get more oxygen. This may not be a sign of a healthy pregnancy but instead one that is in danger.

When a baby dies in the first four weeks of life, it is known as a neonatal death. About 2,000 babies fall into this category every year in Canada.

The most common cause of neonatal death is preterm birth. Babies born less than 37 weeks are considered premature and the earlier they are when they are born, the higher the death rate. More than 12 percent of babies born in the US each year are preterm. They fall into three categories: women who have had a previous preterm birth, women with multiple pregnancies, and women with certain uterine or cervical problems. The biggest complications of preterm birth that can lead to death include respiratory distress syndrome, intraventricular hemorrhage, necrotizing enterocolitis and infections.

Medical Malpractice Lawyers

The medical profession which includes doctors, nurses and hospital technicians usually provides a caring service with a high standard of excellence however there are occasions when things do go wrong. Our litigation service is completely free and our lawyers will deal with your stillborn death case using a contingency fee arrangement which means that if you don't succeed in receiving a financial settlement then your stillbirth medical malpractice lawyer won't get paid.

LEGAL HELPLINE: ☎ 855 804 7125

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The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here