Anemia is a relatively common ailment women develop while pregnant. It’s a condition in which the blood lacks an adequate amount of healthy red blood cells. There are three types of anemia:
- Iron-deficiency anemia
- Folate-deficiency anemia
- Vitamin B12 deficiency
Anemia is one of the most common blood disorders, affecting roughly 3.5 million Americans, according to WebMD. Having anemia while pregnant is possible because women's bodies require more iron and folic acid. All types of anemia can cause serious birth complications if left untreated. Fortunately, the condition is easy to diagnose and easy to treat with diet changes and supplementation.
Symptoms of Anemia
The most commonly cited symptom of anemia is fatigue. This is because the organs have a harder time functioning when they don't receive the proper nutrients in the blood. Fatigue is exacerbated in pregnant women because they likely are fatigued already from the pregnancy itself.
Other symptoms that anemia can produce are listed below.
- Dizziness and lightheadedness
- Pale lips and skin
- Weak nails
- Loss of focus and concentration
- Rapid heartbeat
- Shortness of breath
At your first visit, your obstetrician is supposed to do a blood panel and test for several conditions, including anemia. It’s important to identify any conditions you may have early in the pregnancy so steps can be taken to keep your baby healthy. If you notice any symptoms such as these at any time during your pregnancy, it’s important to address them with your doctor.
Anemia-related Birth Complications
Pregnant women with anemia are usually prescribed an iron supplement and provided basic dietary information to incorporate iron- and folic acid-rich foods. When anemia isn’t diagnosed or isn’t treated, it can cause the following complications.
- Pre-term delivery
- Low birth weight
- Anemic infant
- Depression in the mother
- Developmental delays
- Spina bifida
- Brain abnormalities and other neural tube defects
When Doctors Are Negligent
Obstetricians are well aware of the risks of anemia during pregnancy and generally screen all their patients for it. During the first prenatal appointment, they’ll administer a hemoglobin and hematocrit test to check for anemia and then possibly conduct other tests if the blood test is abnormal.
When a health care provider or lab makes a serious mistake or fails to perform their duties and it causes harm to the mother and/or baby, they may be held legally liable in a medical malpractice claim. Not all mistakes justify a claim; providers are only liable when they do something outside of the standard of care. For example, administering an anemia test early in the pregnancy is standard. Anemia.org provides: “Because so many women do have low stored iron, it is has become standard practice to be evaluated for anemia at your first prenatal appointment.” As such, if a doctor fails to order the test, it’s clearly outside of the standard of care.
With anemia-related pregnancy complications, a provider may be considered legally liable for the damages if any of the following are true.
- The doctor failed to perform routine other tests to determine the cause of anemia
- There was a needless delay in testing or diagnosis
- The provider didn’t properly treat anemia
- The lab made mistakes with the blood sample
- The doctor failed to diagnose or misdiagnosed the illness
Seeking Restitution for Damages
If you or your child experienced health complications because of prenatal anemia, it’s highly advisable to talk to a birth injury attorney. You might have grounds to file a suit and obtain compensation for your damages. Your lawyer will review the details of your case and determine if all the required elements are present to substantiate a claim.
If you reside in Pennsylvania, our birth injury attorneys at Cordisco & Saile LLC are here to help. We handle all types of malpractice cases, standing firmly by families who were harmed because of negligence. Contact us today for a free consultation to discuss your case at 215-642-2335.