Pregnancy can make mothers more prone to infection and increase the severity of an infection. This is because pregnancy temporarily weakens a mother’s natural immune system.
Failure to properly diagnose and treat certain maternal infections during pregnancy can be very dangerous for the baby and result in serious birth injuries.
Below is a summary of the most common types of maternal infections that can lead to birth injuries.
Group B streptococcus (GBS) is a common type of bacteria that often exists in the mother’s urinary tract, vagina or rectum. An estimated 25% of all pregnant mothers carry GBS. A GBS infection in normal adult women is a very minor issue, but during pregnancy, GBS infections can pose very serious risks for the baby. GBS is the bacterium most commonly involved in chorioamnionitis (a dangerous infection of the fetal membrane or amniotic fluid). GBS infections can be transferred to a baby during pregnancy or during delivery from the mother’s birth canal.
GBS is the most common source of dangerous infections in newborns such as meningitis and pneumonia. Mother’s carrying Group B Strep must receive antibiotics. If antibiotics are not used there is a 1% chance of the baby being born with GBS-disease.
Toxoplasmosis is an infection caused by one of the most common parasites in the world — toxoplasma gondii. Toxoplasma gondii is a single-cell parasite often found in raw meat, cat feces and soil. Many people carry toxoplasma gondii in their body but the immune system prevents the parasite from causing illness. If a pregnant mother develops a toxoplasmosis infection it can be transferred to the baby and cause very serious mental and physical defects. Permanent brain injury, hearing loss, and blindness are possible outcomes for a baby with toxoplasmosis.
Listeriosis is caused by listeria, a bacteria that can be ingested with raw or uncooked foods. Listeriosis usually occurs in the 3rd trimester and cause flu-like symptoms such as fever and nausea. A listeria infection can present very significant risks during pregnancy. Listeriosis can infect the fetal membrane and cause stillbirth, miscarriage or a baby born with a serious infection. If quickly diagnosed the infection can be effectively treated with antibiotics.
The well-known sexually transmitted disease of syphilis presents very significant risks during pregnancy. Syphilis can be transferred to a baby during the pregnancy. A baby can also contract syphilis during delivery from open sores in the mother’s birth canal. Fetal and newborn syphilis can cause brain damage, hearing or vision loss and even stillbirth or neonatal death. Syphilis can often be dormant in the body for years so the mother may not even be aware that she has it. For this reason, it is very important to test pregnant women for syphilis very early on.
Hepatitis B is a virus that infects the liver. Hepatitis B can be transmitted from mother to baby during pregnancy and also during delivery and have devastating results. Hepatitis B is more damaging to younger to patients. Babies born with hepatitis B are at extremely high risk for permanent injury including liver damage and cancer. Early testing of pregnant mothers for hepatitis B is critical.
Chorioamnionitis occurs when maternal infections spread to the fetal membranes and amniotic fluid. Chorioamnionitis is also referred to as intra-amniotic infection and amnionitis. Chorioamnionitis usually occurs when bacteria present in the mother’s vagina, such as E.Coli or Group B Strep, travel upwards to the uterus. Premature rupture of membranes can increase the risk of chorioamnionitis. Chorioamnionitis can result in early delivery and have serious health effects on the baby including permanent brain damage.
Maternal Infections Malpractice
When doctors or labor and delivery teams fail to timely diagnose and effectively manage maternal infections, it may be a breach of the required standard of medical care. When a breach of the standard of medical care results in injury to mother or baby the doctor or hospital can be held liable for medical malpractice.
Contact Miller & Zois About Maternal Infection Malpractice
If you or someone you know has a child that was born with birth-injuries resulting from a maternal infection, call us at 800-553-8082 or click here for a free online consultation.