The Life of the Placenta: Prenatal to Post-Delivery

As your baby grows inside of the womb, he or she is growing alongside an organ that we call the placenta. During pregnancy, this organ supplies oxygen and nutrients to your baby. In addition to blood and nutrients, the placenta also produces hormones like hCG, estrogen, and progesterone. Connected by the umbilical cord, a placenta and fetus exist in symbiosis until a baby’s delivery.

The Life Line

Threaded with three blood vessels, two arteries, and a larger vein, the umbilical cord is the feed by which blood flows between the mother and fetus. Some umbilical cords can grow to be as long as 60 centimeters, allowing babies the freedom to swim and move within the amniotic fluid. On some occasions the umbilical cord will wrap around the fetus, posing the risk of birth injury and cerebral palsy.

Origin of the Organ

In the third week of pregnancy, after an egg has been released and fertilized, the follicle it emerged from breaks down. Once collapsed, the former corpus luteum of the ovary begins to produce the hormone progesterone. By the fourth week of pregnancy, this mass of cells clusters into a proto-embryo and implants itself into the uterine wall. Some of these fertile stem cells split from the mass and burrow even deeper. While their brother and sister cells go on to form the embryo’s fingers, toes, and brain, these cells shape into a disc. Placentas are fully grown by the twelfth week of pregnancy—weighing as much as a full pound on the day of delivery.

Placental Complications

Like all aspects of fetal development, placental growth must be monitored by a responsible medical practitioner. Whether your baby is being born in the Baltimore area or New Jersey, birth injury and cerebral palsy could threaten their safety and livelihood. With ultrasound, a doctor can look for symptoms of placental complications like placental abruptions, accreta, and previa. After a baby has been delivered (through contractions or cesarean section), the placenta soon follows in an afterbirth. Doctors or midwives will inspect the placenta and its membranes, ensuring that all of it has been delivered.

Understanding the Complexity of Fetal Lung Development

During the 42 weeks of pregnancy, our babies rapidly evolve—from a pair of zygotes—to an aquatic life in the womb—and finally, one breathing in the world. Being almost a miracle in itself, the human lung forms early in fetal lung development, appearing in the embryonic phase at the fourth or fifth weeks of gestation. Branching to the left and right, they bud as two seeds would.

Phases of Development

After the passing of the embryonic phase, it is in the 17th week of the pregnancy that our two organic buds each grow a respiratory system, respectively. Capillary vessels sprout up and down, supplying the blood that will transport oxygen into the fetus’s nascent, growing brain. By the canalicular phase, there exists a clear barrier between air and blood flowing in the womb. Carbon dioxide and other gases are now able to be evacuated from respiratory capillaries in the lungs.

Saccular and Beyond

The saccular phase, at 36 weeks of pregnancy, is when the fetus’s lungs are said to be fully developed. At this final stage of fetal lung development, the lungs have begun producing surfactant—a soapy substance meant to preserve lung tissue and prevent it from damage during exhalations. As Baltimore lawyers know all too well, it is at this critical stage that a fetus is most prone to birth injury and the danger of cerebral palsy.

Prenatal Malpractice

Without an adequate production of surfactant, a fetal lung cannot be said to be mature. Doctors specializing in prenatal care are instructed to order an amniocentesis, should they suspect the potential for a premature pregnancy. If it appears that a mother and her baby will enter labor prematurely, an injection of steroids can be administered to accelerate the development of the baby’s lungs. By neglecting to act on these warnings, a doctor may be deemed guilty of prenatal malpractice.

Premature Complications

When a mother and her baby have been deprived of antenatal steroids, she and her child can face an unsafe delivery. Immature lungs ultimately result in less oxygen flowing to a newborn’s brain (called hypoxia)—manifesting as respiratory distress syndrome, transient tachypnea, or even periventricular leukomalacia. Lacking a steady supply of oxygen during pregnancy, a baby is vulnerable to birth injury and later diagnosis of cerebral palsy.

This is What It’s Really Like Caring for a Child with Cerebral Palsy

Every year, 10,000 babies are born with cerebral palsy, making it the most common neurological disorder in the nation. Cerebral palsy is a lifelong, non-progressive disorder that affects a person’s ability to control his or her movement, as well as maintain good posture and balance. According to, because of the added strain on the body throughout the child’s life, adults use five times the amount of energy as an average person, just to walk or move about freely. A day in the life of a person growing up with cerebral palsy will be faced with increased pain, stiff muscles, slip and falls, loss of independence, fatigue, amongst many more troublesome symptoms.

Although some children are born with the genetic abnormalities associated with cerebral palsy, in some cases, children will acquire the disorder due to a birth injury. At Gershon, Willoughby, Getz & Smith, LLC, we are the choice cerebral palsy attorneys for so many because many of our attorneys are also medical doctors. Our team is skilled at “reading between the line” and interpreting complicated medical paperwork, that only an experienced doctor would understand. If, as a parent, you suspect your child has suffered a birth injury resulting in cerebral palsy, we can get you the compensation you deserve.

As this may all be new to you, this is what it’s really like caring for a child with cerebral palsy.

First and foremost, as parents, nothing can prepare you for the lifelong journey ahead of you while you raise a child with special needs. In just six short months after birth, the child will start to show the early warning signs of cerebral palsy. This might include the head lagging backward as you pick your little one up, an extremely stiff or relaxed body, or unusual posture and a favoring to one side of the body. The child won’t reach milestones typical for his or her age like crawling, talking, or walking. Instead, your child will need extra support with all of these things.

As the child starts to grow, the condition will sometimes leave him or her with an intellectual impairment, such as the need to be placed in a special program at school. In moderate to severe cases of cerebral palsy, children will experience delayed growth and development due to the muscle and limbs that have been affected. What’s more, over time speech and language disorders can develop, which can be frustrating not only for the child, but for the parent watching the baby suffer. Cerebral palsy does not go away, but the sooner disabilities are managed through physical, occupational, and speech therapy, the better chance the child has enjoying an independent and healthy adult life. This is a lifelong journey and commitment for the whole family.

As you can see, caring for a child with cerebral palsy takes a lot of heart, patience, time, and not to mention money, for something that could have been prevented at birth. If you want justice for your child, contact our lawyers for cerebral palsy today and we’ll set up a meeting to assess your case immediately.

Doctor-to-Doctor Communication is Critical – Here’s Why

Just for a second, imagine you’re suffering from a minor intestinal issue. You call your primary care provider to make an appointment and he can see you right away. It’s not the best or even worse news, but he is sending you to a specialist. You’re a little nervous as you drive over to the hospital and land in the hands of a GI specialist that you’ve never met before. He asks, “What are you here for today, Denise?” You think to yourself, shouldn’t he know what I am here for? I am not even sure what I am here for! You sheepishly reply, “Well, I am not sure. My primary doctor said he would be faxing over my records and you would handle the rest.”

The primary doctor did not fax Denise’s records; therefore, the specialist was not able to properly care for her at the time of her visit.

A 2011 study published by the Archives of Internal Medicine demonstrated that roughly 70% of primary care physicians say they send a patient’s medical records with reason for consultation most of the time, and 35% of specialists claim they receive the records in time for the appointment.

Our group of cerebral palsy attorneys at Gershon, Willoughby, Getz & Smith are finding that doctor-to-doctor miscommunication is becoming far too common in today’s healthcare practices.

Doctor-to-doctor communication is critical when it comes to quality patient care and here’s why.

Saves Lives

Imagine that? When doctors appropriately communicate and send each other critical patient information, it can save a life. Whether it be an allergy or blood type—when a doctor fails to provide this information, it puts a life at risk.

Repeat Tests

It is typical for men over 50 to undergo prostate exams. Specialists and primary care providers alike can perform the exam and then another isn’t due for a year. If doctors do not communicate they have performed certain exams on their patients with one another, it’s more likely a patient will have to endure multiple instances of the same tests because his doctors failed to communicate. Not to mention the cost of the exams will be billed twice to the patient’s insurance company.

Higher Medical Error

This goes hand in hand with saving lives. Lack of communication can cause a severe injury or even a minor medical error, which are both unacceptable. Medical errors are ranked number five ahead of diabetes, accidents, breast cancer, and gunshot wounds, on the list of the top ten causes of death – according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Medical error is also the leading cause for delayed treatments, incorrect medications, and wrongful surgeries.

If you feel you’ve been a victim of doctor-to-doctor miscommunication – please contact our medical malpractice lawyers in Baltimore today at 1-877-292-6491.

Why Legal Counsel is Important for Erb’s Palsy Cases

About one out of every 1,000 babies is born with Erb’s Palsy. During the birthing process, the doctor will stretch the infant’s neck too far to one side during delivery, causing the brachial plexus nerves to be damaged in the shoulder. In turn, the baby’s arm will be weak, or in the worst case, become paralyzed. The most common sign of Erb’s Palsy will be that the infant is not moving his or her arm, but nerve damage might be hard to diagnose until the toddler stage of life. If this birth injury is diagnosed as quickly as possible, it can be treated effectively.

If you feel that your physician has acted in a negligent manner causing your baby to suffer from the birth injury, Erb’s Palsy, contact us here at Gershon, Willoughby, Getz & Smith – birth trauma attorneys from Baltimore, Maryland.

Hiring legal counsel is imperative for Erb’s Palsy cases. Erb’s Palsy is entirely preventable if a physician does not deviate from the standard medical procedures, and intervenes appropriately if there is any difficulty delivering during childbirth.

Some of the most common reasons that lead to an Erb’s Palsy diagnosis include

  • Forceful pulling on the baby’s arms
  • Failure to perform an emergency c-section
  • Improper use of birthing tools – forceps or vacuum extraction tools
  • Inability to monitor fetal distress
  • Baby is too large, and doctor has failed to monitor growth throughout pregnancy

It’s difficult for parents to know if any of the above actions may have occurred. Our team of birth defect attorneys (that are also trained medical doctors) will be able to determine how the infant’s injury happened, and if it’s grounds for an Erb’s Palsy lawsuit.

For a mother, giving birth to a child should be the best day of her life. In the unfortunate situation where proper childbirth procedures were not followed, causing injury to your baby, you want an experienced legal team on your side. The burden of proof for an Erb’s Palsy case can sometimes be complicated, but we will assess your case and get you the compensation you deserve!

One of our lawyers is available to assess your case on an individual basis free of charge. Please give us a call or visit our website for more information