NJ Intrauterine Growth Restriction Malpractice Lawyers
Fighting for Victims with Fetal Growth Restriction Injuries throughout New Jersey
Doctor visits to track your baby’s developmental progress are an exciting part of pregnancy. As the months go by, your obstetrician can tell you how far along you are in the pregnancy and how large your baby is growing. But what if your baby is not growing as expected? A baby’s gestational age is measured by the developing fetus’s size and weight according to the pregnancy stage. For instance, a four-month-old fetus would be expected to be within a certain size and weight range to be considered thriving. When a developing child is not within that standard range, however, a physician might suspect intrauterine growth restriction or IUGR.
If there are indications that a developing baby in the womb is unusually small for the gestational age, it is the doctor’s responsibility to further investigate, diagnose, attentively monitor, and appropriately plan for the chid’s birth. Despite this, medical professionals may fail to recognize or miscalculate the baby’s growth stage versus their gestational age, missing key information that further informs the diagnosis of intrauterine growth restriction and the formulation of the correct birth plan. Likewise, it is not uncommon for healthcare providers to make critical errors in judgement when deciding when and how to deliver a baby. When IUGR exists, the consequences of mistakes with the planning and execution of your child’s birth can be dire. Unintended complications like oxygen deprivation can prove permanent in their effects, with conditions like brain damage and hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) that deprive your baby of the chance to thrive.
If your child suffered birth injuries due to medical malpractice with intrauterine growth restriction in New Jersey, contact our experienced attorneys today to discuss your case and the possibility of a lawsuit. We can provide you with dedicated legal guidance and answers in a free consultation. Simply fill out our convenient online form or call (866)-708-8617 now.
Understanding Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR)
IUGR means that a fetus is abnormally small for its gestational age, specifically lower than the 10th percentile of all fetuses of the same age. When intrauterine growth restriction occurs, it may manifest in two distinct forms: either the fetus is uniformly small or the body is too small for the head. The condition primarily results from the developing fetus becoming undernourished due to problems with the placenta or umbilical cord issues. In certain instances, IUGR can be caused by the mother’s lifestyle and health habits. Smoking, drinking, and drug use in particular affect fetal development, as do infections, STD’s, high blood pressure, poor nutrition, low amniotic fluid levels, diabetes during pregnancy, anemia, lupus, and anti-seizure medication. Sometimes, multiple births affect individual fetus size or the baby’s own genetics in the case of birth defects. However, some IUGR cases occur without any of these risk factors.
Diagnosis of Fetal Growth Restriction
When the doctor checks the baby’s size by measuring the mother’s belly (fundal height or pubic bone to uterus distance) or by ultrasound, IUGR may be diagnosed. An ultrasound shows the baby’s approximate size and the placenta and umbilical cord functioning. Further testing might be ordered if intrauterine growth restriction is suspected to check fetal heart rate and genetic testing of the amniotic fluid through amniocentesis.
Treatment for IUGR
After running diagnostic tests to confirm intrauterine growth restriction, a doctor may recommend some form of treatment, depending on the pregnancy length and the severity of the underlying problems. If early in the pregnancy, a doctor may recommend monitoring the baby’s growth, while treating the baby’s mother for conditions like infections, as well as helping with smoking cessation and a healthy diet. Repeat scans and measurements happen more frequently after diagnosis to monitor the extent of fetal growth and the mother’s placenta. If the baby has stopped growing, inducing labor and ultimately, C-section delivery, may be the safest option.
Possible Complications from Restricted Fetal Growth
IUGR, and often related prematurity, can cause a host of health complications and conditions for newborns. For example, underdeveloped babies may have trouble breathing and feeding, often cannot regulate their temperature, and may also have irregular blood cell counts. They may suffer from hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), neurological disorders, kidney failure, and infections more than babies born within the standard weight range for a full-term baby. They are also more susceptible to oxygen loss during delivery, and thus are more likely to have brain damage. Children born with IUGR may further suffer intellectual delays and struggle academically. Even into adulthood, intrauterine growth restriction can affect health, as babies with this condition often grow into adults with health problems, such as obesity, high cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease.
Medical Malpractice with Intrauterine Growth Restriction
First and foremost, correct diagnosis of IUGR is key. Not only is ascertaining a baby’s size not an exact science, but making the fine distinction between a merely small baby and one that is below the 10th percentile of all fetuses at a specific gestational age is difficult. Some babies are constitutionally small because they come from smaller parents and are simply genetically constituted small. Ascertaining the correct due date is also important. A fetus whose age is younger than calculated initially may not actually be small and relying on a physical examination alone is far less reliable than a physical examination with a doppler or three-dimensional ultrasound.
The critical decision for a doctor to make after diagnosing intrauterine growth restriction is when to deliver a baby, if it’s possible to wait for the baby to reach term, and how to effectively plan and determine the best course of action for the birth itself. Extremely low birth weight babies born before 37 weeks are less likely to survive or to survive without permanent damage. Inducing labor is considered appropriate when the uterine environment is dangerous to the fetus such that it is more dangerous to be in the womb than outside. However, delivering a small baby that is not endangered by malnourishment in the womb may cause more problems than if the baby goes to full term. Making this determination is vital, as a planned inducement of a preterm baby may give the obstetrician time to administer steroids to strengthen the preemie’s undeveloped lungs, increase survival chances, and reduce respiratory distress or pneumonia.
Since the goal in managing fetal growth restriction is to deliver the baby as close to term as possible and no real treatment options exist, the most effective protection for mother and child is proper diagnosis and preparation, including high alertness to the possibility of IUGR and frequent testing after suspecting the condition, using all available methods to track fetal growth and uterine health. So, if your doctor concluded that your baby was just smaller because you are small, and failed to diagnose, monitor, or properly manage restricted fetal growth, they may have committed medical malpractice. When this leads to further harm for your child, such as lack of oxygen, permanent brain damage, or cerebral palsy, you may take legal action by pursuing a lawsuit.
Contact Dedicated New Jersey IUGR Negligence Attorneys
Our New Jersey IUGR malpractice attorneys are highly familiar with medical negligence involving restricted fetal growth and we assist victims of birth injuries on a regular basis. If you believe that your child was harmed as a result of substandard medical care, our lawyers can provide you with information, legal guidance, and representation to help you recuperate past medical costs and cover your child’s future care. Contact us anytime at (866)-708-8617 for a free case review and no-cost consultation.
- Fetal Growth Restriction, Medscape
- Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR); Small For Gestational Age (SGA), American Pregnancy
- Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR) for Parents, KidsHealth