Women around the country experience premature labor in about 12 percent of all pregnancies. This type of labor is defined as going into labor prior to the 37th week of pregnancy, and increases the risk of potential health and neurological problems if it occurs between the 20th and 32nd weeks. Seeking medical attention for contractions occurring more than five times in one hour is important to ensure proper diagnosis and care.
While certain lifestyle and medical factors may increase the likelihood of premature labor, many women present with no signs, symptoms or risk factors. Drinking, smoking and drug use during pregnancy, domestic violence in the home and high stress levels may all be potential factors in premature labor and may also lead to an increased risk of birth injuries. However, medical factors may also play a role, but this does not apply in every case.
Some medical risk factors for premature labor include IVF treatments, a history of multiple births or undergoing multiple abortion procedures. The latter is particularly problematic if the mother has had at least one second-trimester abortion or multiple first-trimester abortions. Abnormal weight before pregnancy, a high fever or certain recurring infections, including those of the bladder or kidneys, may all be indications of a higher-risk pregnancy and should be monitored closely by medical personnel.
In a case where a serious birth injury is an issue, an attorney look over the treatment records of the mother and child throughout the pregnancy and delivery process to determine how the injury occurred. The attorney could seek compensation for the damages sustained should it be determined that the negligence of a health care practitioner was the cause.