What Causes Vasa Previa and Who is at Risk?


Vasa Previa Lawyer

Vasa previa is a rare and devastating complication of pregnancy that occurs in approximately one out of every 2,500 pregnancies. If the condition is diagnosed during pregnancy, the fetus has a 97% chance of surviving. However, if the condition is not correctly diagnosed in time, then there is a 56% chance the fetus will die before or during birth.

If you have suffered the loss of a child because of undiagnosed or incorrectly diagnosed vasa previa, you should talk to the medical malpractice lawyers at Raynes & Lawn. We represent parents in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and throughout the country who have tragically lost children because of medical negligence. Our firm has a track record of securing large settlements and jury verdicts, including multi-million dollar awards, to hold the healthcare professionals responsible for their negligence and provide financial compensation to the parents.

Doctors and other healthcare professionals must meet a standard of care to ensure the safety of their patients. While vasa previa is a rare condition, doctors must be aware when pregnant women have known risk factors that make vasa previa more likely. They must follow the standard of care in properly diagnosing the condition, monitoring it carefully, and providing an individualized management plan designed to protect the health of the mother and baby.

Medical negligence in incorrectly diagnosing or monitoring vasa previa poses a severe risk to the baby. When vasa previa is not properly monitored, the baby has less than a 50% chance of surviving. The medical negligence team at Raynes & Lawn has many years of experience in evaluating and prosecuting complex cases. Contact us to find out how we can help.

What Causes Vasa Previa?

Vasa previa is a condition that occurs when blood vessels that connect the fetus to the placenta are not in their normal position. Instead of being inside the amniotic sac where they are protected, some of the blood vessels lie outside the sac across or near the cervix. These blood vessels are unprotected and can rupture when the mother’s water breaks. This may cause both the mother and the baby to lose massive amounts of blood, and the baby may be stillborn.

There are several causes of vasa previa. These include:

  • Velamentous insertion of the umbilical cord –– Instead of being inserted into the placenta, the umbilical cord is inserted into the amniotic membrane.
  • Multi-lobed placenta –– Membranes divide the placenta into two or three sections, with the umbilical cord inserted into the membranes. Risk factors for multi-lobed placenta include smoking, advanced age, history of seizures, diabetes, and heredity.
  • Placenta previa –– Also called “low-lying placenta,” this occurs when the placenta attaches to the lower part of the uterus and covers part or all of the cervix.

Who is at Risk for Vasa Previa?

The most common symptom of vasa previa is sudden vaginal bleeding, especially if the blood is a dark color, which could indicate that it is coming from the fetus. However, there are often no symptoms before the onset of labor.

Even when there are no symptoms, there are risk factors that doctors must be aware of. Pregnant women are at risk when:

  • They have the condition of placenta previa (low-lying placenta).
  • They have previously had a Cesarean section delivery.
  • They have previously had uterine surgery.
  • Their baby was conceived with in vitro fertilization.
  • They are carrying twins or higher multiples.

If a pregnant woman has any risk factors, or if a routine transabdominal ultrasound shows abnormalities in the placenta, the mother’s doctor should screen for vasa previa, usually with a transvaginal ultrasound scan.

Managing Vasa Previa

There is no cure for vasa previa, but if it is properly managed, the baby’s chances of survival are greatly increased. When vasa previa has been diagnosed, doctors should carefully monitor the mother and fetus, starting around the 28th to the 30th week, testing fetal well-being twice per week. Doctors should develop an individualized treatment plan, which in some cases may include hospitalization and/or steroids. Delivery must be by Cesarean section, usually at 35 to 37 weeks or earlier if necessary to protect the baby.

Chances of a Baby’s Surviving Vasa Previa

How much of a chance a baby has of surviving vasa previa depends to a very large extent on whether a medical professional correctly diagnosed the condition in advance. Chances of survival are excellent — around 97% — when there has been a correct diagnosis. However, when there is a failure to properly diagnose, more than half of all babies with vasa previa will be stillborn.

Compensation for the Death of a Baby Due to Vasa Previa

The amount of compensation that may be available for the loss of a baby due to vasa previa depends on the circumstances of each situation. Our attorneys would be glad to evaluate your potential case and assess the value of your claim. If we agree to represent you, we will consult with expert doctors and review the medical records to prove that medical negligence caused your baby’s death.

Time Limits for Filing Vasa Previa Claims

Every state sets a time limit — called the “statute of limitations” — for medical malpractice claims, which creates a deadline for when you can file a lawsuit. If you miss the deadline, you will lose your chance to receive compensation. You should consult a medical malpractice attorney immediately to find out the time limits for your state.

Proving Negligence

To prove that a doctor’s negligence in diagnosing and managing vasa previa caused the death of your baby, you must prove that:

It will usually be necessary to have physician experts testify to prove that the doctor breached the duty of care and that the breach was the cause of the baby’s death.

Find Vasa Previa Lawyers Near Me

At Raynes & Lawn, we work hard to recover compensation for our clients and to hold medical professionals responsible for their negligence. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with a Philadelphia medical negligence lawyer and a free case evaluation. Fill out our contact form or call us toll-free at (800) 535-1797 to find out more about your legal rights and options.

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