Undiagnosed or Untreated Anemia During Pregnancy
Pregnancy is an exciting but exhausting time. The pregnant body goes through so many changes that many women complain of fatigue, poor concentration, and other symptoms during pregnancy. However, careful physicians do not take for granted that pregnancy alone causes a woman to be tired and have brain fog. Those symptoms may indicate a more severe problem, such as anemia, a blood disorder caused by iron deficiency or blood loss.
How does Anemia Happen Among Pregnant Women?
Anemia occurs when a shortage of red blood cells causes reduced oxygen and iron in the blood, creating nerve and muscle abnormalities. Red blood cells contain hemoglobin, a protein that carries oxygen throughout the body and carbon dioxide to the lungs to breathe out as toxic waste. Iron enters the body through digested foods, though it is difficult to absorb, so ingesting enough iron-rich foods is essential during pregnancy. The mineral folate is necessary for making red blood cells as well. Since women need more iron and folate during pregnancy, they are more prone to anemia when their diet or preexisting conditions contribute to vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
Identifying the Risk Factors for Anemia in Pregnancy
Vegetarians or vegans with vitamin B12 deficiency, celiac or Crohn’s disease sufferers, or those with partial stomachs due to weight loss surgery are more prone to anemia. Sickle cell anemia, thalassemia, donating blood, ulcers, and polyps also may cause susceptibility to anemia during pregnancy, as certain illnesses destroy red blood cells. Also, being younger than 20, experiencing extreme blood loss during a previous pregnancy, and taking certain medications increase the likelihood of pregnancy anemia.
Additionally, women with multiple fetuses, back-to-back pregnancies, severe morning sickness, iron deficiency, or heavy periods pre-pregnancy are likely to experience pregnancy anemia. Since blood volume increases by up to 30% during pregnancy, all pregnant women need more vitamins and iron to produce red blood cells. When a woman’s red blood cell count falls below a certain level, they can develop anemia.
Moreover, the developing fetus draws on a mother’s red blood stores in her bone marrow, especially in the third trimester, so she can develop iron-deficiency anemia when those stores are depleted. Vitamin B-12 and folate deficiency are two other forms of anemia due to vitamin B-12 and vitamin B deficiencies from missing dietary or supplement ingredients.
Preventive Strategies to Avoid Anemia while Pregnant
As with many conditions, prevention is the best treatment. Good nutrition, full of iron-rich foods, such as meats, eggs, poultry, fish, shellfish, leafy greens, beans, legumes, fortified cereals, and whole grains, provide ample iron and B-12. Additionally, folic acid supplements are standard for women trying to get pregnant and through pregnancy. Physicians prescribe prenatal vitamins for their pregnant patients to help prevent anemia.
Indicators of Anemia During Pregnancy
While an anemic pregnant woman may have pale skin, lips, and nails, symptoms are more apparently fatigue, dizziness, racing heartbeat, brain fog, chest pains, cracked lips, leg cramps, and breathlessness. They may also experience cold, weakness, tongue soreness, and restless leg syndrome.
Importance of Proper Diagnosis when You Have Anemia while Pregnant
Since the same symptoms may be typically pregnancy effects or signs of other common conditions, the sure way to detect the condition is through routine complete blood tests (CBCs), typically at early prenatal checkups. When they suspect anemia, a physician may test blood for hemoglobin and hematocrit counts, measures of red blood cells and oxygen. A CBC measures red blood cell count, the size and shape of red blood cells, iron stores, and vitamins B12 and B9. A physician analyzes the results to diagnose mild or severe anemia and other blood conditions.
When tests indicate anemia, the treatment may involve iron supplements, prenatal vitamins, or a blood transfusion for severe anemia. The type of iron for a patient depends on the age, health, symptoms, and severity of the condition. Some patients react to iron supplements with nausea or constipation. However, side effects of iron supplements are preferable to potential complications for the infant, which are a damaging result of failure to diagnose and treat anemia during pregnancy.
Potential Complications from Anemia During Pregnancy
While mild anemia is common in pregnancy, severe anemia can cause damage to the mother and baby developing in her womb. For this reason, it is crucial to diagnose anemia in an expecting mother and both she and her baby need sufficient treatment. Some of the possible complications resulting from undiagnosed or untreated anemia during pregnancy include prematurity, a low-birth-weight baby, infant anemia, and developmental problems for the child.
As for mothers, anemia also slows postpartum recovery, and severe anemia during pregnancy increases the risk of infection when blood loss occurs at delivery. When left untreated, anemia worsens and increases the risk of arrhythmia, an irregular heartbeat; an enlarged heart; and heart failure. Organ damage can also result from hypoxia or under-oxygenated blood.
Medical professionals must guide pregnant women through a safe pregnancy with competent care and medical attention. If an obstetrician or another doctor fails to prescribe prenatal vitamins, take blood tests to check for anemia, diagnose a pregnant woman’s anemia symptoms, monitor an anemic patient during pregnancy, or treat them sufficiently, they may breach their duty to render medical care up to the required standards of their profession, which can have devastating results.
What to Do if Your Medical Provider Failed to Diagnose or Treat Pregnancy Anemia in NJ
When your baby or you suffer injuries due to undiagnosed or untreated anemia, it is imperative to seek sound legal advice from an attorney who regularly handles birth injury and pregnancy malpractice cases. New Jersey laws ensure that injured victims harmed by negligent medical professionals can seek compensation for the damages resulting from a negligently-induced injury. When you or your baby are hurt due to severe anemia that a physician failed to diagnose or adequately treat, you may have a viable medical malpractice claim to recover the total sum of physical, financial, and emotional damages to you or your child.
Medical malpractice claims are based on past, present, and future losses, and in the vast majority of cases, defendants and their representatives are unwilling to pay out large compensation awards without a fight. However, compensation for your and your baby’s injuries helps you recover, cope, and thrive as best as possible. Our lawyers are undeterred by those who would seek to prevent you from successfully obtaining the full compensation to which you or your child are truly entitled.
Speak with a New Jersey Attorney about Your Medical Malpractice Claim for Anemia in Pregnancy
If you or your baby experienced injuries or complications due to undiagnosed or untreated anemia, contact us immediately at 866-708-8617 for a free consultation about your pregnancy anemia case. Our accomplished team of birth malpractice lawyers can thoroughly review, prepare, file, and pursue a claim on your behalf to ensure that you recover the compensation you deserve. From investigating the facts of your case and gathering medical and financial records and other evidence to support a claim, to negotiating or litigating your case, you can rest assured that your claim is in good hands when you entrust it with our legal team. We bring decades of birth injury litigation experience, and a unique focus on practicing in this area of New Jersey law, to bear on each case and every woman and child we represent.