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Causes of ROP

Understanding the Causes of Retinopathy of Prematurity

Infants born prematurely are at a significantly greater risk of developing retinopathy of prematurity (ROP). In fact, approximately 80 percent of pre-term babies develop ROP and as many as 600 of these infants will become blind. Parents in this situation undoubtedly have many questions about ROP, including what they can do for their child, what caused the condition and whether the condition could have been prevented. The lawyers at Freidin Dobrinsky Brown and Rosenblum can help you obtain answers to these important questions.

At present, there is no definitive answer as to what specifically causes retinopathy of prematurity (ROP). However, there is a strong correlation between supplemental oxygen treatments administered to premature babies and ROP.

Understanding How ROP Occurs

While the eye starts to develop as early as 16 weeks into pregnancy, the blood vessels at this stage are relatively undeveloped. Throughout gestation, these blood vessels gradually start to move toward the retina. The most critical stage of growth for these vessels occurs in the last weeks of pregnancy and the first weeks after birth. However, if a baby is born prematurely, the flow of oxygen and nutrients stops and the blood vessels may not be able to grow completely to the retina.

Oxygen, Immaturity and ROP

  • Oxygen treatments: In the past, oxygen treatments were administered to premature babies to help them survive. However, this practice has slowed somewhat as research suggested a correlation between supplemental oxygen treatments and the onset of ROP. In essence, it has been argued that supplemental oxygen treatments can cause abnormal blood vessel growth.
    Nevertheless, the practice of administering oxygen treatments to premature babies is often inescapable due to the many other health issues that benefit from such treatment.
  • Lack of nourishment: Because oxygen and nourishment cannot reach the retinal blood vessels, nourishment may come from other areas of the eye. This can cause abnormal blood vessel growth.
  • Bleeding and scarring: Abnormal blood vessels are weak and can bleed. Bleeding causes scarring. As the scars heal and shrink, they may pull at the edges of the retina — this can lead to retina detachment which causes blindness.

At Freidin Dobrinsky Brown and Rosenblum, We Can Help

Our attorneys have extensive experience handling ROP cases in Florida, and across the nation. We recognize the financial challenges our clients must endure as a result of ROP-induced blindness. We thoroughly examine each case to determine whether negligent medical care contributed to a child's vision problems. In a recent case, along with co-counsel, we recovered $38 million on behalf of twin boys who suffered ROP-induced blindness as a result of medical malpractice.

To discuss your situation with a lawyer at our Miami law firm or to find out if you have a case, we welcome you to contact us to schedule a free initial consultation. You need not worry about added financial stress in this difficult time. You will owe no fees unless we obtain financial compensation for you. Although we are based in South Florida, we help ROP victims throughout the United States.

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