A woman’s cervix is supposed to dilate, or widen, when she gets ready to give birth. Unfortunately, in some women, a cervix dilates and effaces (grows thinner) too soon before she has carried the baby to full term. When a woman experiences this problem, it is referred to as cervical insufficiency.
Cervical insufficiency is a serious medical problem that can create a major threat to a baby if it is not caught and treated.
There are many possible outcomes of cervical insufficiency that goes untreated, depending upon when the problem develops. Some of the potential risks to your baby of cervical insufficiency include:
- Death. Cervical insufficiency can happen at any point in the pregnancy, including during the first trimester. If cervical insufficiency happens, it can be the cause of miscarriage of the fetus. In fact, some estimates indicate that as many as 25 percent of miscarriages that occur during the second term happen as a result of cervical insufficiency. Tragically, the risk of miscarriage means there is a chance that the baby will die as a result of the problem with the cervix.
- Respiratory problems. Cervical insufficiency can result in a woman giving birth to a premature baby. The exact problems that a premature baby will experience vary depending on a huge variety of factors, including how premature the baby is and how far along the baby is in development. Respiratory problems, however, are common among premature babies, and there are many different respiratory problems that premature babies can experience if they are born before their lungs develop. Bronchopulmonary dysplasia and respiratory distress syndrome are just two examples.
- Ongoing physical or behavioral problems. Premature babies may experience ongoing physical problems that last them throughout their lives. Lung problems may persist, for example, as may heart problems. Cerebral palsy is common in premature babies and refers to a group of health problems affecting balance and movement. Blindness and deafness, or vision loss to some degree, are also common among premature babies. These babies may also experience intellectual disabilities or autism as well.
Each of these different consequences of a premature baby or a miscarriage can shape and change families forever. Babies may also experience other potentially fatal complications at birth as well, including problems with the heart or the intestine. The full extent of the consequences of the medical malpractice that resulted in the premature baby will vary, but in every case, doctors should be held responsible if their actions caused the cervical insufficiency to harm the baby.
Mario Cattabiani is the Director of Communications at Ross Feller Casey, LLP, a personal injury law firm based in Philadelphia. Visit http://www.rossfellercasey.com/news-wire/129 for additional information on the topic of cervical insufficiency.