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Home > Practice Areas > Medical Malpractice > Birth Injuries > Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR)

Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR)

When a woman is going through the stages of pregnancy, it is absolutely imperative that she receive optimal prenatal care. Part of the acceptable standard of care for a physician or midwife includes fetal monitoring, The reason for this is that some medical conditions only appear during pregnancy, but they can still have a negative effect on the health of the child once it is born. One of the most severe is Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR), also called Small for Gestational Age (SGA). While the condition itself cannot be eliminated, it can be successfully managed if caught early.

Risk Factors and Possible Effects

Generally speaking, IUGR is when a baby is much smaller than it should be at a certain point in its gestation. There are two types: symmetrical and asymmetrical. The former is when the child’s body is uniformly small, while the latter is when the head and brain are normally developed and the rest of the body is underdeveloped. In both types, however, if a child’s weight is below the 10th percentile for their age, they are deemed Small for their Gestational Age (SGA).

There are many causes of IUGR, both naturally occurring and brought on by a risk factor in the mother. The most common include an abnormal placenta (that is, attached to the uterine wall at the wrong point), an underlying medical condition in the mother (such as hypertension, gestational diabetes or preeclampsia) or substance abuse. Women who live at high altitudes and women who are naturally smaller tend toward smaller babies to begin with, so any of these potential causes can be even more severe if those risk factors are also present.

Babies diagnosed with IUGR are much more likely to be born via cesarean section, because they may not be receiving enough nutrients in the womb and might be too delicate to make it through traditional labor. It is also common for them to experience more issues immediately after birth, such as infections and low blood sugar. Very often, IUGR babies do catch up physically with their peers, though if they experienced a severe case, they may have developmental or intellectual disabilities as a result.

Failure to Diagnose and Treat

There is no official count of how many babies each year are born with IUGR, but it is certainly not an unknown condition. As part of their duty of care to their patients, doctors and midwives are required to screen for abnormalities in size and health that might lead to a diagnosis of IUGR, and a failure to do so definitely points in the direction of medical malpractice. Failure to diagnose or treat an illness is actually the most common reason people give for suing their doctor.

To establish a claim for medical malpractice, it must be shown that the doctor breached the duty of care owed to their patients – both mother and child. If It must also be shown that that breach was the direct cause of the harm experienced by the patient or patients. In the case of an IUGR baby, a failure to diagnose can lead to birth complications like trouble breathing, a high red blood cell count, and in the most extreme cases, stillbirth.

Get Experienced Help

When your baby is in distress, it is difficult and frightening for you as a parent. You need knowledgeable help that can take some of the stress off your shoulders. Gary Roberts & Associates keeps medical experts on staff, and we have years of experience in this field. Let us help you and your family get through a tough time. We offer flexible appointments to work with your schedule, and are also able to accommodate Spanish speakers at our West Palm Beach office. Contact us to discuss your options today.

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