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Data Suggests New Jersey Hospitals Perform Too Many C-Sections

According to data released by the New Jersey Department of Health, the state performs an excess number of surgical births (C-sections), among women considered at low risk for birth complications. New Jersey’s surgical birth rate is almost seven percent higher than the national target rate of 23.9 per 100 live births, with only eight out of 49 New Jersey hospitals meeting the benchmark.

A cesarean section, also known as a C-section, is a surgical procedure used to deliver a baby when the safety of the mother or baby is at risk. Incisions are made through the mother’s abdomen and uterus. In certain situations, these procedures can be lifesaving to both mother and child, but many performed in New Jersey have been deemed to be unnecessary and preventable.

“While these procedures can save lives, too many women in our state are experiencing preventable C-sections, which are putting them at unnecessary risk for injury or death,” said New Jersey Health Commissioner Shereef Elnahal. 

Like any surgery, surgical births pose risks, such as maternal bleeding, infections and blood clots, which can all lead to maternal death. In 2018, an investigation undertaken by USA Today suggested that more women are dying due to childbirth complications in the United States than the rest of the developed world. Hemorrhaging was a leading cause, with as many as 90% of maternal deaths due to extreme blood loss that could have been prevented. 

In light of this eye-opening data, leaders from New Jersey birthing hospitals have committed to achieving cesarean birth rates for low risk women of 23.9 percent or lower by December 31, 2021. Furthermore, this summer, 2019, the New Jersey Department of Health will publish additional data for the New Jersey Report Card of Hospital Maternity Care, which will include surgical birth rates, complication rates, and severe maternal morbidity (SMM) data.

Additionally, New Jersey’s First Lady, Tammy Murphy, has launched a statewide awareness campaign called “Nurture NJ” to reduce infant and maternal mortality and morbidity and ensure equitable care among women and children of all races and ethnicities. 

If you believe your loved one died due to medical negligence during her pregnancy, labor, childbirth or the postpartum period, please contact us at 877-262-9767.

Preeclampsia Drug Reaches Clinical Trial Phase

Researchers at Lund University in Sweden have published a study in the journal Scientific Reports that suggests a drug (alpha-1-microglobulin or A1M) has potential therapeutic effects in patients with preeclampsia. In tests, researchers found that A1M stopped the leakage of protein in the kidneys and improved organ function in the kidneys and the placenta.

Preeclampsia is characterized by the development of high blood pressure and high protein levels in urine at or after 20 weeks of pregnancy. It is a serious complication that can result in maternal and fetal injury or death. An investigation undertaken by USA Today suggests that high blood pressure is a leading cause of mothers dying and suffering strokes—and as many as 60% of maternal deaths due to hypertension could have been prevented.   

Patient trials were launched after researchers saw no indication of side effects, and the results confirmed previous studies by the research team. 

“This feels like a milestone in our research,” senior researcher Lena Erlandsson said of the clinical trials. 

A date has not yet been set for a potential drug to come to market, as the research and development of pharmaceuticals takes many years. However, the results of this study are promising and suggest there may be a treatment for the condition that annually affects around 9 million pregnant women worldwide. 

Pregnant women with preeclampsia are at risk for seizures and the development of eclampsia (coma), stroke, severe bleeding, heart attack, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, and placental abruption. If severe preeclampsia develops, the mother will require hospitalization.  However, mild preeclampsia may be managed with at-home care and close physician monitoring.  

Symptoms of preeclampsia may include headaches, blurred vision, upper abdominal pain, decreased urine output, low blood platelet level, and sudden weight gain, and should be discussed with a physician.

If you experienced preeclampsia during your pregnancy, and you or your child suffered injury as a result, please contact us at 877-262-9767.

 

New Research Could Help Prevent Neonatal Seizures

Researchers at Penn State University have identified a link between a small organic compound found in fruit and honey called gluconate, and neonatal seizures. The research team used gluconate to target CLC-3 chloride channels in the brain. These small openings (channels) facilitate a large ion current in an infant’s brain, but are not as active in an adult brain. Since gluconate is too large to pass through the channels in an infant’s brain, it acts as a channel blocker, which may inhibit seizure activity. The researchers also found that a ketogenic diet (low-carbohydrate, high-fat) may help the body produce a substance that can act as a channel inhibitor, similar to gluconate, to suppress neonatal seizure activity.

Currently, there is no drug specifically developed to target neonatal seizures, and unfortunately, researchers indicate, long-term use of some anti-epilepsy drugs may have side effects on brain development in newborns. Researchers are optimistic that this finding could lead to the development of a viable treatment option for neonatal epilepsy.

Neonatal seizures are a common indication of a birth injury, resulting from events such as fetal distress, maternal bleedingplacental abruption, or cord prolapse. The most common cause of neonatal seizures is hypoxic–ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), which may lead to poor neurological outcome. HIE causes oxygen deprivation to the brain, which may occur before, during, or after delivery. This condition is also a leading cause of cerebral palsy.

There are five main types of neonatal seizures: subtle seizures, tonic seizures, clonic seizures, myoclonic seizures and non-paroxysmal repetitive behaviors. Symptoms of seizures may include repetitive shuddering or shaking, jerking movements, and excessive eye blinking. These events often signify serious damage to the brain and demand urgent medical attention.

If you believe your child suffers from neonatal seizures as a result of medical malpractice, please contact us at 877-262-9767.

New Clinical Trial to Screen for Group B Strep

The UK’s National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is set to begin a clinical trial to screen pregnant women for Group B Streptococcus (also called Group B strep or GBS). The trial will test the effectiveness of two types of GBS screening compared to no screening in 80 hospitals throughout England and Wales where there is currently no standard screening program in place. The NIHR-funded trial will be led by doctors from the University of Nottingham School of Medicine.

Group B streptococcus is a common type of bacteria, which live naturally in the intestines and the urinary and genital tracts of adults. Though typically harmless to adults, GBS can cause severe injuries to newborns if it is transferred from their mother during labor and delivery. According to the CDC, “A pregnant woman who tests positive for GBS bacteria and gets antibiotics during labor has only a 1 in 4,000 chance of delivering a baby who will develop GBS disease. If she does not receive antibiotics during labor, her chance of delivering a baby who will develop GBS disease is 1 in 200.” Newborn symptoms of GBS may include drowsiness, coughing, congestion, difficulty feeding, fever, irritability, or seizures. GBS can be life-threatening; 4-6% of babies who have GBS die from the infection. GBS can also lead to serious conditions, such as pneumonia, sepsis, or meningitis. Therefore, screening and diagnosis is critical.

If a mother tests positive for GBS (in the United States, GBS testing is typically administered between 35 and 37 weeks gestation), IV antibiotics should be administered during labor. Risk of passing the GBS infection to the infant is higher if the mother has chorioamnionitis or gives birth before 37 weeks of pregnancy.

Currently, UK obstetricians use a set of criteria to assess a woman’s probability of carrying the bacteria. A previous study showed this process to be inaccurate. The UK is one of the only countries in the developed world where there is currently no standard screening program for GBS, but this landmark trial may change that.

If you believe your baby suffered a GBS infection during labor or delivery, please contact our expert birth injury lawyers for help. Call us at 877-262-9767 to discuss your situation.

States with the Highest Maternal Mortality Rates

Each year, approximately 700 women die of pregnancy-related complications in the United States. Death may be caused by postpartum hemorrhage, preeclampsia, pulmonary embolism, cardiac arrest, infection, amniotic fluid embolism, or other complications. According to data recently released by U.S. News and World Report, certain states in the nation have much higher maternal death rates than other states.

In 2018, a USA Today investigation suggested that more women are dying due to childbirth complications in the United States than any other country in the developed world. Maternal mortality rates in some states are so high, they match those of developing countries. For example, between 2011 and 2015, Georgia, Louisiana and Indiana all had average rates above 40 deaths per 100,000 live births—well above the 2014 overall U.S. average of 18 deaths per 100,000 live births. These statistics put these three U.S. states on par with the maternal death rates in Malaysia, Turkmenistan and Cabo Verde.

There are also alarming rates of maternal deaths amongst women of color. In Louisiana, maternal death occurs two and a half times more frequently amongst black women than white women. In Georgia, for every100,000 live births, 66.6 black women die due to childbirth complications, compared to 43.2 white women. Age can also play a role in maternal death: Georgia mothers in the age bracket of 35-44 had the highest maternal death rate, with nearly 90 deaths per 100,000 live births.

According to the report, California, Massachusetts and Nevada have the three lowest rates of maternal death in the nation, at 4.5, 6.1 and 6.2 deaths per 100,000 live births, respectively.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines a pregnancy-related death as “the death of a woman while pregnant or within 1 year of the end of a pregnancy–regardless of the outcome, duration or site of the pregnancy–from any cause related to or aggravated by the pregnancy or its management…” The CDC calculates pregnancy-related mortality ratios to estimate the number of pregnancy-related deaths for every 100,000 live births. Since the CDC started surveilling this data in the late 1980s, the number of pregnancy-related deaths in the U.S. has more than doubled, from 7.2 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1987 to 17.2 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2015. While the reason for this troubling increase is not entirely clear, hemorrhaging and high blood pressure—two largely preventable causes of maternal death—have been cited as leading causes of maternal death.

If you believe your loved one died due to medical negligence during her pregnancy, labor, childbirth or the postpartum period, please contact us at 877-262-9767.

The following reviews from our clients do not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of another legal matter. The cases mentioned in the reviews are illustrative of some of the matters previously handled by Grant & Eisenhofer involving various areas of birth injury law. These reviews are endorsements.

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The following reviews from our clients do not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of another legal matter. The cases mentioned in the reviews are illustrative of some of the matters previously handled by Grant & Eisenhofer involving various areas of birth injury law. These reviews are endorsements.

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