Having a baby later in life has become increasingly common, giving rise to the term “advanced maternal age,” which refers to a mother who is age 35 or older at the time of giving birth. The New England Journal of Medicine investigated the prevalence of advanced maternal age pregnancies between 1991 and 2001, reporting an increase of 36% in women who deliver their first child between the ages of 35 and 39. The study also reported growth of 70% in first births among mothers between the ages of 40 and 44 during the same time period. While the rise in advanced maternal age represents many positives for women, it also has a number of drawbacks, one of which is an increased risk of birth injuries.
Pregnant women at or over age 35 are more exposed to a number of serious risks, including gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, miscarriage, stillbirth, having a baby with genetic abnormalities, and even maternal death. With this in mind, OB-GYN’s and other doctors must operate with additional caution while monitoring advanced age pregnancies, quickly identify potential conditions that may affect the women or her baby, and take precautions to prevent birth injuries and other serious pregnancy-related complications.
Consult our Experienced Attorneys if You or Your Baby Suffered Harm from Negligent Advanced Maternal Age Care in New Jersey
Since advanced maternal age increases the risk for many birth injuries, the stakes are even higher when you are having a child over 35. If your child suffered a birth injury or you experienced harm due to mismanaged advanced age pregnancy, contact Fronzuto Law Group at (973)-435-4551 to discuss your case with an experienced New Jersey birth injury lawyer. A member of our team will listen to your unique circumstances and explain your rights in a free consultation.
How does Advanced Maternal Age Affect Risk for Birth Injuries?
Advanced maternal age is associated with an increased risk of birth-related complications, some of which include:
- Premature birth,
- Hypertension (high blood pressure),
- Birth defects such as Down syndrome, Tay-Sachs disease, neural tube defects, and cystic fibrosis, and
- Gestational diabetes
Doctors must make pregnant women aware of these risks during their pregnancies and provide them with the opportunity to make informed decisions. Further, they must remain extremely vigilant during prenatal care to identify and avoid potential problems. For example, physicians may refer women with high-risk pregnancies to specialists called perinatologists or maternal-fetal medicine specialists, who are more educated in this specialty and equipped to manage their specific pregnancy. They may also schedule a cesarean (C-section) in advance to prevent potential complications during natural birth, or order an emergency C-section if a labor fails to progress or problems arise during vaginal delivery. Bed rest may also be necessary if a mother’s specific condition may lead to miscarriage or premature childbirth.
What if a Doctor Mismanages the Risks of Advanced Age Pregnancy or Related Complications?
Failure to test, diagnose, inform the mother of the risks, or make the appropriate referral are just some examples of how medical malpractice may occur during advanced maternal age pregnancies. In addition, medical errors with mothers ages 35 and older may occur during labor and delivery, often spelling tragic results, including birth injuries and maternal harm. The following illustrate just a few examples of how negligence occurs in advanced age pregnancies.
Identifying Risks in Advanced Age Pregnancies
Women at or over age 35 are also at increased risk for hypertension (high blood pressure), and a related condition known as preeclampsia, during pregnancy. Having high blood pressure while pregnant and during childbirth further exposes women to premature birth, and babies born premature are more at risk for a host of serious birth injuries. In addition, if high blood pressure is combined with protein in the urine – known as preeclampsia – failure to manage this condition exposes a woman to potential organ damage, stroke, and even maternal death.
Conditions like gestational diabetes also pose for the mother and child if physicians fail to take appropriate action. Potential consequences of gestational diabetes handled incorrectly include seizures, organ damage, and long-term Type II diabetes after giving birth. Moreover, negligent care during childbirth when gestational diabetes is present can lead to brachial injury injury, Erb’s Palsy, and other serious injuries for infants.
Advanced Maternal Age and Testing for Genetic Abnormalities
Advanced maternal age increases the risk of genetic abnormalities, which may lead to genetic disorders. These abnormalities occur in the genome, meaning they are present at the chromosomal level. For example, advanced maternal age is correlated with a significant increase in the risk of having a child with Down syndrome. The American Academy of Family Physicians reports that 1 in every 1,300 pregnancies involve Down Syndrome among women at age 25, while the ratio increases to 1 in every 365 pregnancies at age 35, and further grows to 1 in every 30 among pregnant women age 45.
Doctors can test to identify genetic abnormalities that result in birth defects like Down syndrome, providing women with critical information that they need when deciding whether to proceed or terminate the pregnancy. While genetic testing is not required, failure to ask patients if they will elect for these tests, or failure to thoroughly inform about the results, may give rise to wrongful birth cases, which occur when a child is born with a birth defect.
Had a Baby with a Birth Injury Later in Life in NJ?
We can help. Our highly experienced New Jersey medical malpractice lawyers represent mothers and children who suffer serious injuries resulting from pregnancy and birth-related negligence. If you or your baby has been injured or experienced a permanent condition and you believe a doctor or other healthcare provider may have been involved, contact us today at (973)-435-4551 for a free consultation. Our attorneys will review your case free of charge and discuss your possible claim for compensation.