Maternal Infection Lawyers in Atlanta
A Common Factor Leading to Birth Defects & Injuries
Pregnant women are especially susceptible to infections. During pregnancy, the body’s immune system is partially suppressed to allow the baby to grow. It is up to healthcare providers to screen, diagnose, and provide early treatment for common maternal infections. When they don’t, the baby can contract the disease and be severely compromised.
If your baby was born with a birth defect or injury, you may have a medical malpractice case. Contact the husband and wife legal team of Wayne and Kimberly Grant. As Atlanta birth injury attorneys as well as parents, we investigate these cases rigorously to make sure our clients get justice. For a free consultation, please call (404) 995-3955 or toll-free (866) 249-5513.
What Are the Possible Maternal Infections?
Many birth defects, birth injuries, and lifelong complications can result from an untreated infection in the mother. The mother can transmit the bacteria or virus through the placenta, or through the baby’s contact with the birth canal during delivery. Here is a fairly comprehensive list of maternal infections, both common and rare, and the risks they pose to the fetus:
- Urinary tract infections (UTIs): Hormones in the urinary tract often fluctuate during pregnancy, and pregnant women are more prone to UTIs. Urinary tract infections are dangerous when they lead to pyelonephritis: a bacterial infection/swelling of the kidneys. Pyelonephritis can be life-threatening for mother and baby due to sepsis (bacteria in the bloodstream, causing the body to go into toxic shock), and can cause premature labor. Early detection is the key to treating UTIs and protecting the child.
- Vaginitis: A general term for infection or inflammation of the vagina, vaginitis can be caused by bacteria, virus, or fungus. Bacterial vaginosis is a common infection, but when left untreated, it can create birth complications. The baby is more likely to be delivered early or have a low birth weight, and the mother will be more susceptible to other infections, including postpartum infection.
- Candidiasis (yeast infection): The increase in estrogen during pregnancy makes yeast infections more likely. They are rarely dangerous, but can impact a baby who is premature, and may lead to heart rhythm problems and respiratory distress. During pregnancy, yeast infections should be treated with safe topical creams, not oral antifungal drugs, which have been shown to cause miscarriage or birth defects.
- Chorioamnionitis: A bacterial infection of the amniotic fluid surrounding the baby, chorioamnionitis usually starts in the genitourinary tract, and travels up to infect the baby. It can be caused by internal fetal or uterine monitoring by doctors or a prior untreated infection, and the baby will need to be delivered as quickly as possible. Babies are at risk for meningitis (infection in the brain and spinal cord), pneumonia (infection in the lungs), and bacteremia (infection in the bloodstream).
- Cytomegalovirus: A common virus that affects many adults, cytomegalovirus usually exists in latent form, and doesn’t present a problem—until pregnancy. There is no cure for cytomegalovirus, but the birth can be managed to avoid transmitting the disease to the infant. Untreated, it can cause jaundice, an enlarged spleen or liver, hearing/vision problems, pneumonia, seizures, and delayed development in the baby.
- Toxoplasmosis: A parasitic infection usually contracted from contaminated water or uncooked meat, toxoplasmosis is deadly and can cause serious birth defects in a baby’s brain, eyes, heart, and lungs. The child may suffer seizures, delayed development, and learning disabilities. The earlier the mother is infected during pregnancy, the worse off the baby is, but doctors can use antibiotics to control the symptoms and limit transmission.
- Parvovirus B19: Also called Fifth Disease, parvo cannot be treated with antibiotics, but can be treated with intrauterine blood transfusions. Doctors can use a blood test to test for parvo in the mother, and an ultrasound to check the baby. Anemia is the most common sign, and if uncontrolled, it can lead to heart failure in the child later on, or a miscarriage.
- Herpes simplex: If the mother is having a genital herpes outbreak at the time of labor and delivery, it can spread to the child. There is no cure, but medication can be used to treat the outbreak and diminish the risk of transmission. Birth-acquired/congenital herpes may be a skin infection or a systemic infection, or both. Herpes can cause brain damage, blindness, respiratory problems, seizures, damage to kidney and liver function, and encephalitis (swelling of the brain). It can be life-threatening, and a C-section is often necessary to protect the baby.
- Syphilis: Congenital syphilis cases are growing in U.S. Multiple screenings for this disease are a standard part of prenatal care. Early treatment with antibiotics is key, because babies born with syphilis can be underweight and premature, with deformed bones, neurological problems, brain damage, blindness, deafness, anemia, and meningitis—and symptoms may not appear for weeks or even years later. (Healthline)
- Listeriosis: Pregnant women are 10 times more likely to get listeriosis from food contaminated with listeria, according to the CDC. Antibiotics can control the infection, but without them, expectant mothers can suffer miscarriage or stillbirth, premature labor, and the baby can get a life-threatening infection.
- Hepatitis: Hepatitis A is spread through contaminated food, and attacks the liver in an acute case of poisoning. Hepatitis B and a few other variations are transmitted through blood or fluid. Vaccines can prevent both, and it’s important for doctors to offer them to expectant mother and test for HBV, which can lead to cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver and cancer.
- Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV): A mother with HIV doesn’t have to have a baby with HIV. Though babies born to HIV-positive mother are likely to be premature, with a low birth weight, a multidrug combination can reduce the rate of transmission, and a C-section makes transmission even less likely.
- Group B streptococcus (GBS): About 25% of women carry GBS, and doctors are supposed to test every woman near the end of pregnancy, since this infection can transmit through vaginal deliveries. GBS can cause sepsis, pneumonia, meningitis, and birth defects like vision or hearing loss, or mental impairments in a baby.
- Varicella-zoster virus (VZV): The virus that causes chickenpox or shingles can be dangerous for mothers who haven’t developed an immunity. Doctors need to perform prenatal tests and should give antibodies just in case. The baby may develop a rare birth defect called congenital varicella, which results in underdeveloped arms/legs, eye inflammation, and incomplete brain development.
After a birth injury, parents are left with shame and heartbreak, but there are hard questions they should be asking. Did the doctor not screen the mother in the standard amount of time? Did the nurse not note the mother’s information on the chart? Did a prior medical center fail to send a complete medical history for the mother? Was the wrong medication prescribed, or no instruction provided to the mother on how to take it? There are thousands of potential mistakes and combined misinformation that can lead to a baby suffering birth injury, and our Atlanta medical malpractice lawyers are here to find the truth.
You Need a Thorough Medical Malpractice Attorney
If your child had a difficult birth, you may assume the injury was your fault. With medical science this rigorous at play, mothers are rarely prepared to challenge a doctor’s care, even if it ended in lifelong injuries to their babies. That’s where a personal injury lawyer can help.
At Grant Law Office in Atlanta, we work on a contingency fee basis, meaning we take no upfront fees to take your case. We are also trial attorneys, who are experienced in a courtroom setting. We have no interest in trying to settle a birth injury claim for the quickest, lowest amount a malpractice insurance company can get away with. We can see your case through to a jury trial and beyond. Call (404) 995-3955 or toll-free (866) 249-5513 to schedule a free case evaluation today.
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