Preeclampsia can lead to brain injuries in newborns. When a pregnant woman has high blood pressure, the baby can experience a reduction in blood flow through the placenta. This means less oxygen and fewer nutrients reach the developing brain, and the baby may suffer brain injuries. This type of brain injury can cause physical and cognitive impairments that the child must deal with throughout their lifetime.
Preeclampsia can be extremely dangerous for both the mother and the child. Because of the critical danger, it is imperative that the doctor monitoring the pregnancy recognizes, diagnoses, and controls the symptoms as quickly as possible. Severe complications, including an increased risk of placental abruption, could be life-threatening for both mom and baby.
Understanding Preeclampsia and How It Causes Brain Injuries
When a pregnant woman develops high blood pressure, and it continues long enough to cause other medical problems, they will likely be diagnosed with preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is fairly common, although it is usually mild. About one out of every 20 women will develop high blood pressure during pregnancy. It can be very mild, very severe, or anywhere in between. It is generally manageable.
When the doctor fails to diagnose preeclampsia, does not prescribe an accurate treatment, does not monitor it closely, or if the case is particularly severe, dangerous complications are possible for both mom and child. The condition can even be deadly in some cases if not addressed promptly.
Recognizing and Diagnosing Preeclampsia
Generally, you may get a preeclampsia diagnosis if you are a pregnant woman whose blood pressure exceeds 140/90 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) on two separate occasions. If you experience symptoms of high blood pressure, you may want to ensure your doctor is monitoring your condition.
Some typical signs and symptoms of preeclampsia include:
- Severe headaches
- Temporary loss of vision, blurred vision, or increased sensitivity to light
- Pain under the ribs on your right side or other upper abdominal pain
- Nausea or vomiting
- Excess protein in your urine (proteinuria)
- Decreased urine output
- Decreased level of blood platelets
- Impaired liver function
- Fluid in the lungs, often indicated by shortness of breath
If you have any of these symptoms, report them to your doctor as soon as possible.
How Preeclampsia Can Affect a Developing Fetus
When a mother’s blood pressure increases, the blood supply flowing through the placenta to the baby decreases. This means the baby—and their developing brain—gets less oxygen and fewer nutrients than they should, leading to potential brain injuries.
This is why maternal blood pressure that is too high for too long can cause a condition known as hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). HIE is a type of brain injury that occurs because of a lack of oxygen to vital parts of the brain. Brain injuries before, during, or just after birth can result in physical and cognitive impairments that last a lifetime. This may include cerebral palsy, seizure disorders, and learning disabilities.
There is also a high risk for placental abruption, maternal bleeding, stroke, and other serious complications for both the baby and mother.
Preeclampsia Can Be Life-Threatening to the Mother
If left undiagnosed or uncontrolled, preeclampsia can also be life-threatening to the mother, as it presents the possible development of cerebral edema, seizures, and other concerning conditions. Uncontrolled blood pressure can cause stroke, hemorrhage, and other serious medical concerns.
There is also research to show that preeclampsia can lead to brain injury in the mother. Several studies have documented brain damage (white matter lesions) in mothers who had a history of preeclampsia or eclampsia. The 2015 study published in the medical journal Current Hypertension Reports reported white matter lesions in 34% to 37% of women with preeclampsia and 41% of women who had eclampsia.
This is significantly higher than the women in the study who had a pregnancy with normal blood pressure levels.
Brain Damage Lawsuits
When a mother has any sign of high blood pressure during pregnancy, the doctors and their team must closely monitor the mother and baby for additional symptoms or signs of distress. If they cannot get the mother’s blood pressure under control, the delivery may be necessary.
Getting a prompt diagnosis and treatment to manage high blood pressure and other symptoms are key to protecting the health of the mother and baby. Your doctor may have committed medical malpractice if they:
- Failed to recognize signs of preeclampsia
- Failed to monitor you and your baby adequately throughout pregnancy, labor, and delivery
- Missed or delayed your preeclampsia diagnosis
- Failed to prescribe the proper treatment for your symptoms
- Did not deliver your baby when necessary to prevent brain injury
You may have legal options to pursue damages that will help pay for your child’s current and future medical needs, physical and occupational therapy, out-of-pocket costs, pain and suffering, and more.
Talk to a Medical Malpractice Attorney in Your State About Your Case
If you had preeclampsia and your child suffered brain injuries, you may be eligible to hold your doctor or the hospital liable through a medical malpractice lawsuit. The Birth Injury Lawyers Group knows that preeclampsia can lead to brain injuries in newborns and can connect you with a birth injury medical malpractice attorney in your state to fight for the justice you and your child deserve.
Your attorney can review your case for free and pursue the compensation your family deserves at no out-of-pocket cost to you. Call 1-800-222-9529 now to learn more.