Neonatal lupus is a rare condition that occurs in an estimated one out of every 20,000 live births, according to Medscape. The disease varies in severity and affects children in different ways. In some cases, it can cause serious, life-threatening cardiac complications.
Parents who have a child with neonatal lupus should take steps to investigate the causes and determine if medical negligence was at all a factor. For assistance with legal matters regarding negligence and harm to your baby, contact our team at Cordisco & Saile LLC. We have two offices located in Bristol and Newtown-Langhorn for your convenience.
What is neonatal lupus?
Neonatal lupus is an inflammatory disease that can affect various parts of the body, including kidneys, joints and organs. It occurs when the child’s immune system cannot differentiate between dangerous foreign substances and the natural substances of the body. As such, the immune system acts overzealously, attacking the body, which, in turn, harms the tissues and causes pain.
The medical field is unclear about the exact causes of neonatal lupus. Many field experts believe there is a link between antibodies that the mother produces and the development of the disease in the child. When the mother has an autoimmune issue and produces anti-SSA/Ro and anti-SSB/LA antibodies, the fetus can absorb these antibodies via the placenta.
Symptoms and Complications
Some cases of neonatal lupus are relatively mild and dissipate within a few weeks to months. These symptoms include skin rashes, low blood cell counts, irritability associated with pain and liver issues.
Some cases are far more serious, however. Many children who have neonatal lupus also have a congenital heart block. Up to 80 percent of children with a heart block also have neonatal lupus, reports Medscape. In fact, the first reported case of neonatal lupus was in 1928 when a woman with the autoimmune disease Sjogren's syndrome had two children with congenital heart block. A heart block can cause a slowed heartbeat, and it will require the child to use a pacemaker. Heart failure is a potential complication of the condition.
Medical Negligence & Neonatal Lupus
Not all instances of neonatal lupus are considered medical negligence. Sometimes the child can develop the condition simply from the presence of antibodies in the womb. However, if a doctor was lackadaisical in assessing the mother for risk factors or if the doctor failed to diagnose the condition (and other doctors in a similar case would have), the courts may deem it negligence.
Risk factors for neonatal lupus include the following.
- A mother with an autoimmune disorder
- Having other children with neonatal lupus
When a physician identifies risk factors during a pregnancy, he or she can take certain steps to reduce the risk of the infant developing neonatal lupus. One such preventive measure is to prescribe fluorinated systemic steroids.
If the doctor acts outside of the standard of care and makes serious mistakes that cause your child harm, you may be able to hold the provider responsible for your damages.
Our Attorneys Can Assist Your Family
If your child was diagnosed with neonatal lupus or a congenital heart block, we encourage you to seek an attorney's input. In Pennsylvania, you are welcome to speak to one of our birth injury attorneys at Cordisco & Saile LLC. We can review the details of your child’s injury and determine if medical negligence was a factor. If so, we can then help you take the legal action necessary to seek restitution.