Maternal Infections

Compassionate Mississippi Birth Injury Lawyers Representing Families Harmed by Maternal Infections

Protecting families whose children were hurt by undiagnosed infections

Pregnancy is an exciting time, but also a vital time for a mother and her doctor to monitor her well-being. The baby is developing and growing every day, and it’s crucial the mother remain healthy for both their sakes. Even the healthiest mother, however, is not immune to sickness or infection. It’s her doctor’s responsibility to implement an effective treatment plan immediately and properly, or the mother and child can suffer serious injury (or even death).

Unfortunately, doctors, obstetricians, and other medical professionals can and do make mistakes. These mistakes can cause life-threatening, permanent injuries. If you believe your doctor failed to diagnose or treat your infection while pregnant, you may need to speak to a birth injury attorney to learn about your rights. At Merkel & Cocke, P.A., our lawyers have decades of experience working with clients just like you to hold medical professionals accountable for their mistakes. We can help.

Common maternal infections during pregnancy

It’s relatively common for a mother-to-be to suffer from minor illnesses during pregnancy. But certain types of infections—both viral and bacterial—can pass to a baby in utero, and cause severe issues if not caught early and treated correctly. Some of these dangerous infections include:

  • Toxoplasmosis. This infection is caused by the parasite Toxoplasma gondii, which can infect the placenta, and subsequently the fetus. Toxoplasmosis is typically asymptomatic and harmless for mothers, but dangerous for the baby. The mother can take antibiotics to treat this infection. If left untreated, however, toxoplasmosis can cause stillbirth, neurological damage, or miscarriage.
  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs). Many women develop UTIs at some point in their lives, and pregnant women are no different. UTIs develop when there is bacterial inflammation in the urinary tract. These infections are relatively harmless when treated in a timely matter, but if they’re not treated properly, the infection can spread to the kidneys. Untreated UTIs can cause premature labor or underweight babies.
  • Chicken pox. The majority of pregnant American women don’t contract chicken pox because there is a vaccine available. In the event a mother does catch it, there are typically antibiotics and antibodies to protect both child and mother. However, if chicken pox goes undetected or untreated, the fetus can contract something called congenital varicella syndrome (CVS). If CVS is untreated, it can cause birth defects, miscarriage, stillbirth, or vision problems in the infant.
  • Listeriosis. This is a rare infection that can be contracted by food tainted with Listeria Monocytogenes. It’s extremely dangerous to the fetus, causing blood infection and meningitis. Listeriosis targets the placenta and amniotic fluids, and can cause stillbirth and miscarriage. It must be treated promptly.
  • Group B Streptococcus (GBS). GBS is a bacterial infection in the intestinal tract. It’s prevalent in weeks 35 through 37, and doctors should regularly monitor expectant mothers for this infection. Left untreated, GBS can cause lasting injuries to a baby, including hearing and vision loss, cerebral palsy, disabilities, or stillbirth.

Diagnosing maternal infections

Doctors should be continually monitoring their pregnant patients for any sign of infection. If they do suspect an infection, they have a responsibility to run tests to verify a diagnosis. There are several ways to diagnose, including:

  • Blood tests. Performing blood tests on the mother can help determine what type of infection is present.
  • Percutaneous blood tests. A doctor can also perform a blood test on the fetus while it’s still in the womb, to diagnose any number of certain fetal conditions.
  • Electroencephalograph. This test measures brain waves in the temporal lobes, in the event the doctor suspects there is an infection in the brain.
  • Ultrasound. Ultrasounds can produce images of the child in utero to target any suspected issues like infections or abnormal development.
  • Amniocentesis. Usually performed after the 15th week of pregnancy, an amniocentesis is a procedure where a syringe is inserted into the uterus to take a sample of amniotic fluid. It can diagnose certain fetal infections or other conditions.
  • Cordocentesis. This is an extremely specialized procedure, sometimes called percutaneous umbilical cord sampling. It typically occurs after the 18th week and can identify certain infections in a fetus.
  • Spinal tap or lumbar puncture. This procedure can identify certain infections found in the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord.


When an expecting mother is diagnosed with an infection, treatment options depend on the nature and severity of the infection. However, there are several common types of treatments that any responsible doctor should be aware of, including antibiotics, anti-viral medications, nutritional support, corticosteroids, health monitoring, hospitalization, NICU for a newborn, and anticonvulsants if a mother is suffering from seizures from a brain infection.

During your pregnancy, it’s the typical standard of care to undergo tests to ensure you are free of infection. If you do contract an infection, your obstetrician should treat you accordingly to ensure you don’t pass on the infection to your baby. If your physician is negligent and allows an infection to go untreated, their negligence may cause you and your child great harm.

Our birth injury attorneys hold negligent Mississippi doctors accountable

When you and your family are dealing with the aftermath of preventable injuries caused by negligent medical professionals, it can feel overwhelming. The lawyers at Merkel & Cocke, P.A. know how to skillfully handle complex birth injury cases, and will seek compensation on behalf of your child and your family. We provide services from our home offices in Jackson, Oxford, and Clarksdale, and work with clients throughout Mississippi, including Tupelo and across the Gulf Coast region. We also handle cases in Tennessee and Arkansas. Please call us today at 662-627-9641 or complete our contact form to