Low Amniotic Fluid (Oligohydramnios) and Birth Injury Lawsuits
Throughout a woman’s pregnancy and delivery, many complications can arise, and knowledgeable medical professionals must be on hand to mitigate any potential problems as they occur. If they are negligent and fail to recognize these problems, the mother and the baby could have birth injury cases. When medical negligence allows low amniotic fluid, or oligohydramnios, to cause problems during pregnancy and labor, a birth injury lawyer may be needed to help the injured mother fight for her rights and file for compensation.
What is amniotic fluid?
The amniotic fluid is an important part of pregnancy. It is essentially part of the life support system of the fetus, protecting it and aiding in the development of limbs, muscles, lungs, and digestive organs. In healthy pregnancies, amniotic fluid is released after the formation of the amniotic sac, which happens about 12 days after conception.
Initially, it is made up of water provided by the mother, and then at around 20 weeks, the primary substance is fetal urine.
What is oligohydramnios?
As the fetus grows and develops, it will tumble in the womb aided by the amniotic fluid. The baby begins to swallow and breathe the fluid during the second trimester of pregnancy. However, at times, the amniotic fluid can measure too high or too low. If the fluid measurement is too high, it is called polyhydramnios. If the fluid measures too low, then this is called oligohydramnios.
Medical professionals can measure the amount of amniotic fluid in the womb. If the amniotic fluid index, or AFI, shows a fluid level of under-five centimeters, an absence of a fluid pocket two to three centimeters in-depth, or a fluid volume of under 500 milliliters at 32-36 weeks of gestation, then a doctor should diagnose the pregnant woman with oligohydramnios.
Low amniotic fluid, in general, can occur in about 8% of pregnancies and about 4% of women are diagnosed with oligohydramnios, usually during the last trimester. Women who are two weeks or more past their due date may be at a higher risk for oligohydramnios because, at about 42 weeks of gestation, fluids within the womb can decrease by half.
What can cause low amniotic fluid?
One cause of low amniotic fluid can be congenital disabilities. If the fetus is experiencing problems with the development of the urinary tract or kidneys, it might not be able to produce the urine necessary to replenish the amniotic fluid.
If the placenta is not providing adequate blood and nutrients to the fetus, this can also cause low amniotic fluid to occur because the fetus can stop recycling the amniotic fluid through its system.
If there is a rupture or leak in the amniotic sac, it can lead to either a gush of fluid or a slow and constant trickle of fluid which will not reach the baby. Premature membrane rupture can also result in low levels of amniotic fluid.
Other maternal complications, such as hypertension, maternal dehydration, preeclampsia, chronic hypoxia, and diabetes can also affect amniotic fluid levels.
How can low amniotic fluid be treated?
Some cases of oligohydramnios can be treated during labor by amnio-infusion through an intrauterine catheter. Adding this fluid can help pad the area around the umbilical cord and reduce the need for a c-section.
Other treatments include injection of fluid before delivery via amniocentesis. This can happen around a week before delivery. Rehydration of the mother during delivery with oral or IV can also help increase amniotic fluid levels.
If you believe that you experienced pain and suffering due to undiagnosed or untreated oligohydramnios, call Cochran, Kroll & Associates P. C. at 1-866-MICH-LAW (1-866-466-9912) today for a free consultation. Their experts include registered nurse and trial lawyer, Eileen Kroll who understands the consequences of birth injury and can help you receive the compensation you deserve. Our law firm never charges a fee unless we win your case.