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Which mothers should worry about infant blindness?

It’s an understatement to say that the final stages of pregnancy can be a nerve-racking experience. Most expecting Iowa mothers that keep their bodies safe for the babies for months are still afraid that something might go wrong during the delivery that could negatively affect them or their newborn child for years to come.

The amount of risks increases exponentially if the baby comes prematurely. Since their bodies may not be fully developed in some areas yet, the doctors need to be especially careful when examining the child. Otherwise, they could end up partially or fully blind thanks to retinopathy of prematurity (ROP).

What is ROP?

ROP is a blinding disorder that typically impacts newborns that are born before 31 weeks of gestation and weigh less than 2.75 pounds. The reason it affects premature infants is because babies need that full 38-42 week gestation period where their blood vessels grow from the center of their retinas. Premature birth can disrupt the process and they can experience abnormal blood vessel growth.

If these abnormal blood vessels grow out of control, then they can scar and potentially detach the retina from the back of the eye. In the condition’s advanced stages, doctor’s often focus on scarring the sides of the retina to preserve the central one. While it does come at the cost of some peripheral vision, the child will still be able to see forward and perform several crucial visionary functions as a result.

How can doctors be liable?

While it’s not often the hospital’s fault for the mother giving birth prematurely, they do have to carefully examine the baby to determine if they need to take any immediate action. Common methods they use for the latter stages of ROP include:

  • Laser surgery
  • Cryotherapy
  • Photocoagulation
  • Injection
  • Scleral buckling
  • Vitrectomy

After the treatment, they should recommend parents to visit a specialist within the next couple of months to check on the child’s condition. Most parents often have to give their newborns eye drops for at least a week after the operation.

There is a good chance that children can suffer lifelong consequences in their vision if the doctors do not treat this condition properly. It will become significantly harder to raise them, and they may miss out on many wonderful opportunities in Iowa as a result. Parents should consult with a medical malpractice attorney in the event that this happens.