Premature Birth and Additional Risk Factors
Was Your Baby’s Blindness Preventable?
Severely premature babies risk developing retinopathy of prematurity (ROP). ROP is an eye injury that can lead to preventable blindness if not screened, monitored and treated property. Richard M. Shapiro educates mothers and fathers about the ROP risk factors. He then holds doctors accountable when they fail to act properly to screen and treat ROP. His office focuses on children suffering from blindness resulting from ROP, and he can provide resources to families struggling with disabilities.
What are the Risk Factors of ROP in Infants?
The biggest risk factor for ROP blindness is premature birth. The medical standard of care in the United States requires screening all babies born before 30 weeks gestation or weighing less than 3 pounds, 4 ounces. Doctors screen babies born after 30 weeks when additional risk factors are present.
Several studies have pointed to hyperoxia as an additional potential risk factor for ROP. Hyperoxia occurs when the baby receives too much oxygen in utero. Excess oxygen then disrupts normal development of the retina.
Some studies suggest up to 72 percent of premature births before 25 weeks where the babies weigh less than 2 pounds, 3 ounces will develop some degree of ROP. There is over 70 years of medical evidence connecting prematurity and low birth weight to ROP. As a result, pediatric healthcare providers must routinely screen babies born before 30 weeks gestation or weighing less than 3 pounds, 4 ounces.
Responding to ROP Risk Factors
Doctors often use supplemental oxygen therapy to treat ROP in infants. Researchers propose that oxygen therapy creates a favorable environment for abnormal retinal blood vessel growth. Babies may receive supplemental oxygen therapy for many legitimate reasons. This can include general respiratory distress, heart or lung conditions and high carbon dioxide or low oxygen levels in the blood. Even without supplemental oxygen therapy, infants with any of those conditions should receive timely ROP screenings. Studies also indicate testing for babies with sepsis (blood infection), steroid treatments, blood transfusions and apnea (abnormal breathing patterns).
Blindness that results from ROP is almost always preventable. Call us right away if your child suffered from ROP and now has vision loss or blindness. We can find out if your doctors and healthcare providers failed to respond to the warning signs and provide timely treatment to your blind baby. With technology so advanced, baby blindness resulting from ROP should never happen. To learn more, please schedule a free consultation with a retinopathy of prematurity attorney.