Low Birth-Weight Lawyers Representing the Black Community

In the United States, we don’t only see racial disparities in the pronounced injustices covered occasionally by the news, but in more insidious and far-reaching matters like childbirth. The health disparities we see between African-American and white women are the product of many causes, and result in both barriers to care and higher rates of many preventable diseases and chronic health conditions. With an increased risk to pregnancy complications already in place, medical negligence or malpractice can make for problematic outcomes.  

One of the most pervasive disparities is seen in low birth weights in newborns, which can affect both mother and child throughout their lives. According to the CDC, 8 percent of US babies are born with low birth weights. That rate, already in the highest tier of advanced economies, balloons to over 13 percent for the Black community.

Source: Wikipedia

How Does Medical Negligence Figure into Low Birth Weights?

A good doctor should be a woman’s partner throughout her childbirth journey. This means that they should advise her on best practices and monitor her for possible complications. When they fail in this responsibility, this is termed medical negligence. When this negligence leads to birth injury, it might be medical malpractice.

Women under 15 or over 35, those who have had low birth-weight babies before, and those expecting more than one baby are at a heightened risk of delivering an underweight baby. Attentive doctors will also be looking for any sign of the following predictors:

  • Preeclampsia (high blood pressure during pregnancy)
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Maternal infections
  • Placental perfusion issues
  • Placental abruption
  • Small cervix
  • First- or secondhand smoking, drug or alcohol use

What Risks Do Low Birth-Weight Babies Face?

The effects of low birth weight don’t end at the hospital scale — underweight infants often face a plethora of issues later in life, such as diabetes and heart defects.

The following birth injuries and complications are more common for babies born at low birth weights:

  • Cerebral palsy
  • Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE)
  • Respiratory problems
  • Heart issues
  • Infections
  • Brain hemorrhages
  • Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
  • Feeding problems
  • Gastrointestinal conditions
  • Blindness
  • Deafness

The Unique Risk of Low Birth-Weight Childbirth for Black Mothers

Researchers have consistently seen Black mothers give birth to children with lower birth weights than white mothers — typically identified as a baby that weighs less than 5.5 pounds at birth. According to a 2004 study, Black mothers are nearly 3 times more likely than white mothers to give birth to a low birth-weight newborn. 

A factor in this is stress; while pregnancy is already a stressful time in a prospective mother’s life, it can take a special toll on Black women. Bad finances are a predictor of low birth weights for Black mothers, who are paid on average 21 percent less than white women, and 39 percent less than white men. This plays into the statistical likelihood that Black women are less likely to have health insurance than white women, and overall have greater financial barriers to top-rate care. 

This isn’t the only factor that leads to worse outcomes for Black women. It’s been shown that the level of discrimination the mother experiences also correlates with low birth weights, as well as premature births. Add this to the systemic failure to support Black communities with well-resourced medical care, and the consequences of medical negligence and malpractice can be devastating.

Source: Wikipedia, shared under a CC-BY SA 4.0 license

When to Consult with a Lawyer Experienced in Discrimination

Lee Merritt, Esq. is a longtime leader and influential voice in the fight for Social Justice, representing high-profile civil rights cases like that of Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man recently shot and killed while jogging in Georgia. 

A dedicated civil rights activist and trial attorney, Mr. Merritt runs a distinguished national practice focusing on victims of police brutality, hate crimes and corporate discrimination. As an activist, he has championed police reform and community empowerment. His office has led the way to reform in Texas, a state notorious for its failure to prosecute police officers, successfully advocating for the first murder indictments of officers in the state in over 40 years.

There are many more battles to fight on behalf of the 22 percent of Black women who report discrimination in their medical care. For a free consultation please fill out our form, write [email protected] or call us directly at 1-800-590-4116.

About S. Lee Merritt

Civil Rights Lawyer

Lee Merritt, Esq. is emerging as a leading and influential new voice in the fight for Social Justice. A dedicated civil rights activist and trial attorney, Merritt runs a high profile national practice focusing on victims of police brutality, hate crimes and corporate discrimination. As an activist, he has championed police reform and community empowerment. 

Do you need more information or want to help? 

Our organization can help mothers and their families who have faced medical issues during pregnancy learn about the resources available to them, as well as learn about what action they may be able to take legally due to discriminatory health practices.  Contact us below by email or phone and our team can learn more about your situation and give you free and friendly advice.

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Philadelphia, PA 19109

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