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Causes and Risk Factors of Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP)

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Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) is a serious complication of a baby being born prematurely and can lead to blindness if it is not treated right away. ROP is widely considered to be preventable and treatable in most cases, so when a doctor doesn't catch it early enough, it can really negatively impact a child's future. It is important to understand the causes of and risk factors related to ROP.


The most common risk factor for ROP is a baby being born prematurely. The eye starts to develop at about 16 weeks of pregnancy, when the blood vessels of the retina begin to form at the optic nerve in the back of the eye. Those blood vessels continue to grow toward the edges of the developing retina while supplying oxygen and nutrients. The last 12 weeks of pregnancy are especially key because they eye begins to develop rapidly; when a baby is born full-term, the blood vessel growth is nearly complete. If a baby is born too early, the blood vessels have not reached the edges of the retina and they may stop growing completely. If that happens, they will stop delivering the oxygen and nutrients that the retina needs. This can lead to retina detaching which is the main cause of visual impairment and blindness in ROP.


According to the National Institutes of Health National Eye Institute, other risk factors aside from premature delivery include:


  • Anemia
  • Blood transfusions
  • Respiratory distress
  • Breathing difficulties
  • The infant's overall health


If your baby is born prematurely and the doctor does not mention anything about ROP, do not be afraid to speak up and ask that your baby be tested. If your baby was born with ROP and the doctor did not catch it or treat it correctly, you could receive compensation for damages related to your child's disease. Contact Girards Law today for a free consultation at 888.897.2762.

Category: Retinopathy/ROP


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