Simply put, multiple pregnancy refers to a woman conceiving more than one child and giving birth to all simultaneously. Usually, multiple pregnancies or multiple births can happen in two ways.
The first way is that the woman releases more than one egg at a time for fertilization, and all these eggs get fertilized by the sperm. These multiples are usually fraternal (not identical).
Then, the second way is that a single egg is divided into two or more places on fertilization by two or more sperm cells. This particular way leads to the birth of identical multiples.
This concept of multiple pregnancies is getting more common by the day. An investigation done by the American Society of Reproductive Medicine shows that infertility treatments cause multiple eggs to develop and make it more likely that one will become pregnant with twins, triplets, or more. This process is called multiple gestations.
However, although having more than one child can be remarkable, the statistics around multiple births aren’t encouraging. It is because the risks of complications are heightened with multiple pregnancies.
One such risk is in the case of twins, where one of the fetuses is spontaneously lost. According to a medical article by the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, this loss is said to occur in up to 20% of twin pregnancies. There is an even higher chance of fetal death in triplet pregnancies, up to 40%.
Complications of Multiple Pregnancy
One complication of multiple births is gestational high blood pressure. The possibility of a woman having this in multiple births is two times higher than in single-child births. Women with multiple births must be actively in touch with their obstetrician to ensure their blood pressure doesn’t get out of hand. If not, they run the risk of having preeclampsia.
Moreso, women with multiple births have a higher risk of having what is called placenta abruption. In placental abruption, the placenta detaches from the womb’s wall and is thus an emergency.
Other issues that can arise from multiple births are if there’s an abnormality with the amniotic fluid for twins that share a placenta. Most of them can lead to a cesarean section in the mother and a risk of bleeding after delivery.
Even though the complications are high, most women need an ultrasound to find out that they are pregnant with more than one child. However, this information is only visible at least 12 weeks into the pregnancy. Some people find out later than that, and this increases the risks for them. Such a complication arises from the negligence of the obstetricians.
Case Reference 1
An example of such a case is that of Ehlinger v. Sipes. The plaintiff reported seeing her doctor while complaining of several symptoms of multiple pregnancies. She recounted that her doctor waived it off and “did not take her seriously.” He didn’t even perform an ultrasound examination on her.
At birth, they found out that the plaintiff was having twins, and the twins eventually incurred injuries. The twins incurred these injuries due to the premature delivery of the twins. All of which would have been avoided if the obstetrician had done his due diligence.
Case Reference 2
Knowing the high risk involved in multiple pregnancies, one would expect the obstetrician to be more careful. Similarly, the woman would likely be constantly checked for other diseases and informed of each procedure to prevent further complications. However, this is still not always the case.
An example is seen in the case of Urban By and Through Urban v. King. This case was a case of gross negligence on the part of the nurse. The plaintiff, reported to be pregnant with twins, came into the hospital for a stress test, and the result was non-reactive. This result implies that there was no fetal movement. Yet, the plaintiff was not informed of this result.
The plaintiff came in again in the morning the following day, and when the nurse did the stress test, she noticed something wrong. The patient had to undergo an emergency in which one of the twins was stillborn, and the other suffered brain damage.
Case Reference 3
Also, we can see, from the case of Hawes v. Chua, another type of complication that can arise from multiple births. This complication is known as twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome.
TTTS is a situation where identical twins share the same placenta. There is usually a “donor” and a “receiver” among the twins. This implies that one twin is giving the other blood, oxygen, and nutrients while the other is receiving too much.
This scenario was the case of the appellant above. Even though she made multiple complaints to the obstetrician in charge, they didn’t take her seriously. Hence, they delayed doing the necessary checkups. The delay lasted for quite a while and then led to the twins being stillborn when the obstetrician eventually checked her. In this case, it is seen that if the doctors had been more observant and meticulous, they would have provided a solution.
The Input Of Legal Animation In Multiple Pregnancy Cases
When an event that should spark joy causes sorrow, it is regrettable. It is even more so when such an event could have been avoided by those saddled with the responsibility for safe healthcare.
However, although it cannot be fully compensated, the complications involved in pregnancy with multiple births can be eased off the plaintiff’s back by legal animation.
The attorney can use legal animation to illustrate how the gestation period of a mother with multiple pregnancies can go. This animation will, of course, be explained by an expert witness. The legal practitioner can also illustrate a complication like the twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome alongside normal multiple births.
It’ll be illustrated from the inception to when the mother should have completed her term. This action gives the judge and jury a clearer understanding of the intricacies of the situation. It also exposes the jury to the fact that a right practicing practitioner should not miss the signs leading up to it.
Furthermore, legal animation can also illustrate the ultrasound images, the twins feeding, and the mother’s overall health. In this part, an expert will state the physical appearance or changes that would have occurred in the mother at each stage. With legal animation, they will go on to illustrate how an obstetrician can know these signs and prevent issues.
All these scenarios and circumstances surrounding cases of multiple pregnancies can be illustrated by our medical animators at Fox-AE.
We ensure that we create demonstrative exhibits that clearly illustrates the fact and opinions of experts and attorneys on the case. Hence, we work closely with them to ensure we leave no detail out.