Having a child born prematurely brings with it a host of potential health issues. Some of these are very well known. Children who are premature often have difficulties breathing, especially if they are more than six weeks early. Premature babies also can have difficulty feeding and gaining weight.
A less known health risk associated with premature birth is ROP, or Retinopathy of Prematurity. ROP can cause blindness in a child, because the blood vessels in the eye grow in a disorganized way, causing tearing and scarring of the retina. Doctors have long struggled with how to quickly diagnose and treat this potentially devastating disease. A new study out of Sweden gives them hope.
Using what is called a web system, Swedish researchers are hoping to provide a diagnostic tool to physicians working with premature babies. Each risk factor is a point on the web. The more points, the larger the web, the greater like the likelihood the child will suffer from ROP. Risk factors for the web include:
- Poor visual response to movement and light
- Low birth weight for the gestational age
- Infant placed on oxygen soon after birth
- Poor appetite
With these risk factors clearly known, doctors can do a better job of identifying ROP early enough they can treat it. The health risks of premature babies are, sadly, underappreciated. Many health professionals are too quick to send mothers home who are showing signs of preterm labor, or are too quick to discharge a baby from the Neonatal Intensive Care before ruling out complications like ROP.
If your child was born prematurely and has suffered health problems, and you believe those health problems are tied to a doctor failing to address issues of prematurity, please contact an attorney. The only way to know what could have been done differently is to get all your questions answered, and all too often these answers only come when an experienced lawyer asks for them.