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Did Your Newborn Suffer Cerebral
Palsy or Another Brain Injury Before
or During Labor and Delivery?

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Our Birth Brain Injury Resource Guide

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Get a FREE guide of resources available throughout Ohio to children and families of children who were born with brain injuries.

Our guide can help you build a foundation of knowledge and tools that will help you help your child
now and in the future.

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Maternal Death – Pulmonary Embolism and Deep Vein Thrombosis

In the latest study available for review, maternal deaths occur 26.4 times for every 100,000 live births.

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. National Public Radio and ProPublica collaborated on a six-month investigation that discovered some unsettling health care issues for pregnant women. More women who live in the United States die from medical conditions caused by a pregnancy-related health issue than the number of women who die because of pregnancy-related medical health issue in any other developed country. Only six percent of state and federal funding goes towards taking care of the mother’s health care needs.

The shocking lack of medical care provided to pregnant women can lead to life threatening medical conditions such as pulmonary embolism and deep vein thrombosis.

An Overview of Pulmonary Embolism

A sudden and unexpected artery blockage causes a pulmonary embolism. The blockage to a primary blood vessel typically occurs because of the presence of a blood clot. Pregnant women are especially susceptible to artery blockages because of complications that unfold during birth delivery. Most cases of the medical condition involve small blood clots that damage the lung but do not place the mother in grave danger. However, as NPR and ProPublica uncovered, many medical facilities have not trained personnel or used equipment that detect small blood clots. The lack of discovery leads to blood clots growing into life threatening ailments

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Symptoms of the pregnancy-related condition include an abrupt shortness of breath that precedes intense chest pain that worsens every time a patient coughs or inhales and exhales deeply. Acute cases of pulmonary embolism often involve the coughing up of a pink-colored and thick foamy substance. General symptoms of the medical condition include acute anxiety, immense perspiration, and the feeling of lightheadedness. You also might experience a rapid heartbeat.

An Overview

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a medical condition that happens whenever a blood clot forms in at least one of the deep veins that circulate blood throughout the body. DVT typically occurs in one or both legs, which causes leg pain and/or swelling. However, DVT can also be a silent killer that displays no symptoms for even a trained medical eye to see. Pregnant women sit and lie still for hours on end, which represents the leading cause of a blood clot to form in a deep vein. When these blood clots break free and travel through the circulatory system, pregnant women run the risk of suffering from a life-threatening ailment.


Symptoms of DVT include sudden coughing, although sudden coughing alone does not alert you or a health care professional to the presence of DVT. Blood coughed up suddenly is the first warning sign of the life threatening, pregnancy-related medical condition. Sharp chest pains and rapid breathing also indicate the presence of DVT, although both signs associate with other types of illnesses and diseases. Severe lightheadedness that leads to fainting spells is also a sign you need to seek a professional medical diagnosis.


The diagnosis of both pulmonary embolism and DVT starts with a physician inquiring about your medical history before he or she investigates the symptoms of either affliction. Tests such as a venography and a duplex ultrasound eliminate other possible reasons for the medical distress. A venography involves the injection of a radioactive dye into the primary vein located at the top of one of your feet. Because of the introduction of radiation into a pregnant woman's system, most physicians prefer to conduct a duplex ultrasound to detect the presence of a blood clot.