Retinopathy of prematurity can be prevented if the doctors can stop preterm labor and delay or prevent preterm birth. This requires close monitoring of the mother as well as fetal development. In some cases, it may not be preventable.
Every week spent in gestation and every ounce gained can be significant for a newborn. When possible, doctors should work to prevent the mother from going into labor for as long as possible before she reaches the final weeks of the pregnancy. This allows the baby time to develop. Babies born before 31 weeks’ gestation are at the greatest risk for retinopathy of prematurity.
When a baby is born early or with very low birth weight, it is important to screen for retinopathy of prematurity, as well as other potential birth injuries and impairments. Early treatment of many conditions yields better long-term results.
For a free legal consultation, call 1-800-222-9529
Understanding the Causes of Retinopathy of Prematurity
Most cases of retinopathy of prematurity occur in babies born before 31 weeks and weighing less than 2 pounds, 12 ounces. Those born earlier and at lower birth weights are at an even greater risk. Other factors can also play a role, however. Your child’s doctor should monitor the baby around-the-clock following their birth.
Babies this small generally require an extended stay in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Common problems they encounter can increase the risk of retinopathy of prematurity. This includes:
- Needing or receiving blood transfusions
- Respiratory distress or other respiratory concerns
Maintaining the proper oxygen level is key for preventing retinopathy of prematurity and supporting the baby’s overall health. Research has linked oxygen levels that are either significantly high or significantly low to the condition.
While it is not always possible, the best solution to prevent retinopathy of prematurity is to help the mother carry the baby to term. When a doctor properly monitors a pregnancy, they may be able to identify issues and watch for risk factors that could indicate preterm labor and early delivery.
Failure to identify these signs or conditions might constitute medical malpractice.
Birth Injury Lawyer Near Me 1-800-222-9529
Retinopathy of Prematurity Benefits from a Prompt Diagnosis
When a baby is born early, the doctor should understand the risks the baby faces, including the risk for retinopathy of prematurity. If your baby meets the criteria, they should undergo screening to rule out this condition.
Screening requires a pediatric ophthalmologist to dilate the baby’s eyes and evaluate the development of the blood vessels there. This is routine screening for many premature babies.
When it comes to specifically screening for retinopathy of prematurity, it is recommended for newborns who were born:
- At less than 1,500 grams (about 3 pounds, 5 ounces)
- Before 31 weeks gestational age
Doctors should consider this screening for other high-risk infants, as well.
Evidence Shows Prompt Treatment for Retinopathy of Prematurity Is Beneficial
While all cases of retinopathy of prematurity cannot be prevented, many babies do well following diagnosis. About half of all babies born weighing less than 2 pounds, 12 ounces in the U.S. have retinopathy of prematurity, according to the National Eye Institute (NEI). This equates to between 14,000 and 16,000 babies with the condition. Only between 400 and 600 experience blindness as a result.
About 90% of babies with retinopathy of prematurity have a mild or moderate case that resolves on its own. Their vision is not affected permanently. The remaining 10 percent has a more serious form of the condition that requires treatment, usually surgery. This surgery prevents their retina from beginning to detach, continuing to detach, or fully detaching.
Because this condition is progressive in Stages IV and V, and in some Stage III cases, the child must receive treatment early. A clinical review in Archives of Ophthalmology confirmed that early treatment for advanced cases of retinopathy of prematurity leads to better long-term outcomes.
Complete a Free Case Evaluation form now
Your Child’s Retinopathy of Prematurity May Support a Birth Injury Claim
If a doctor or another medical care provider played a role in causing or contributing to your child’s retinopathy of prematurity, you may have a birth injury case against them. This may be possible if they failed to:
- Prevent the retinopathy of prematurity
- Diagnose the retinopathy of prematurity
- Treat the retinopathy of prematurity
You will need to work with medical experts to prove that the doctor or other caregiver’s actions violated the expected standard of care, which then caused, failed to prevent, or worsened your child’s condition. An attorney can help you identify a medical expert who will work with you to determine liability and support your claim.
The Birth Injury Lawyers Group Is Available Now to Help You
Reach out to get help with your potential claim today with a lawyer on our team. You can reach us at (800) 222-9529 for a complimentary review of your case.