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Fetal Death

Chicago fetal death and stillbirth lawyer

Assistance With Cases Involving Stillbirth and Infant Death - Illinois Medical Malpractice Lawyer

Any type of birth injury can be difficult for a family to deal with, but the death of a child is especially traumatic. Unfortunately, around 1% of all pregnancies in the United States result in stillbirth. While fetal death is sometimes unavoidable, there are many cases in which it is preventable. Parents should understand the reasons why a stillbirth may occur and the factors that may increase the chances of a child's death.

Causes of Fetal Death

Stillbirth, which is also known as intrauterine fetal demise or IUFD, occurs when an infant dies after the 20th week of pregnancy. A death which occurs before 20 weeks will typically be considered a miscarriage. Some common reasons for stillbirth include: 

  • Maternal trauma - If the mother suffers an injury during pregnancy, such as a car accident or a serious fall, this can lead to the death of the unborn child.
  • Issues with the placenta or umbilical cord - The placenta and umbilical cord deliver oxygen and nutrients to the child. Issues such as placental abruption, a knot in the umbilical cord, or inflammation that restricts blood flow can result in fetal death.
  • Infections - Diseases such as toxoplasmosis or cytomegalovirus that are contracted by the mother may be transferred to the child. These infections can damage the child's brain and nervous system, leading to stillbirth.
  • Pregnancy-related conditions - Fetal death may occur if a pregnant mother experiences high blood pressure (preeclampsia) or a liver condition known as intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP).
  • Labor and delivery complications - A child may die during birth for a variety of reasons, including asphyxia, failure to perform a cesarean delivery in a timely fashion, or meconium aspiration. Preterm labor may also result in stillbirth, especially if it takes place before 24 weeks.

Risk Factors

Certain factors make stillbirth more likely for some mothers. In these cases, doctors should closely monitor an infant's condition and take steps to prevent fetal death. These factors include:

  • Maternal health - Obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking, or use of drugs or alcohol can increase the chances of fetal death. Children may also be at risk if the mother has a condition such as lupus or a thyroid disorder.
  • Multiple fetuses - Stillbirth of one or more fetuses becomes more likely if a mother is pregnant with twins, triplets, or more.
  • Medical history - Complications during previous pregnancies, such as premature birth, preeclampsia, fetal growth restriction, miscarriage, or stillbirth increase the chances of fetal death.
  • Demographic factors - The risks of stillbirth are higher for mothers who are under the age of 20, over the age of 35, unmarried, or African-American.

If any of these risk factors exist, a doctor should ensure that the proper prenatal care is provided to avoid stillbirth. Failure to keep the mother informed about the preventive measures that should be taken, failure to recognize conditions that could lead to fetal death, or failure to provide timely treatment may be considered medical negligence.

The loss of a child can be devastating, especially if the death was preventable. If you have experienced a stillbirth, The Birth Injury Law Alliance can work with you to determine whether negligence was a factor in your child's death. We offer free consultations and case evaluations, and we will help you understand your legal options and the steps you can take to address the harm suffered by you and your family. Contact our office today at 312-945-1300.

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