When a woman is carrying multiple children, she is at greater risk of developing a number of serious complications.  A pregnancy of this nature will often qualify as a “high risk” pregnancy. 

Medical professionals must be extremely attentive with women carrying more than one baby.  Unfortunately some doctors may lack the necessary training, experience and education to properly address the medical needs of a woman with a multiple pregnancy.  This may lead to various complications, which can include serious birth injuries and even fetal death.  Although some birth injuries may be unavoidable, if you or your babies experienced complications or injuries that you suspect were caused by errors during pregnancy, labour or delivery by health professionals, a medical malpractice claim should be considered.


A number of complications can arise when a woman is carrying multiple babies, which may include:

Pre-term Labour:    A woman carrying multiple children is at greater risk of experiencing pre-term labour.  This occurs when regular contractions result in the opening of a woman’s cervix after week 20 and before week 37 of pregnancy and can result in premature birth.  The earlier that pre-term birth occurs, the greater the likelihood of health risks for the baby.  Preemies can suffer from long-term mental and physical disabilities.  Pre-term labour and delivering a pre-term baby can pose health concerns for the baby including low birth weight, vision problems, breathing difficulties and under-developed organs.  They may also have a higher risk of cerebral palsy, learning disabilities and behavioural problems.

Umbilical Cord Prolapse:   This is very rare, but umbilical cord prolapse can occur when the umbilical cord descends through the birth canal before the baby does, cutting off the child’s supply of oxygen and blood.

Placenta Previa:    This condition occurs when the baby’s placenta either partially or fully covers the mother’s cervix.  This condition can cause severe bleeding during pregnancy and delivery.  Severe bleeding may require an emergency cesarean section before your baby is full term and result in higher risks posed to the baby as described above under pre-term labour.

Preeclampsia:   This is a serious condition that develops during pregnancy, causing blood vessels to leak protein to various parts of the body, including the bladder.  If this condition is left untreated, it can lead to serious, even fatal, complications for both mother and baby.  The most effective treatment is delivery of the baby, which may occur before the baby is full term.

Congenital Abnormalities:    Being pregnant with multiple children raises the risk of giving birth to children with medical issues such as Down Syndrome and Cystic Fibrosis.

Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS):   This type of complication can arise during pregnancy when any type of multiples have separate amniotic sacs, yet all share one placenta.  Serious complications can arise as blood moves from one baby to the other in utero and must be immediately treated.

Brachial Plexus Injuries:    Twins or other multiple babies are more likely to sustain injuries to the network of nerves that control movement in their neck, shoulders, arms and hands during their birth.

Seizure Disorders:    There is a greater chance that a child’s oxygen supply may become at risk during labour and delivery for twins or multiple babies, which may result in certain seizure disorders.


As multiple birth pregnancies are riskier than single births, medical professionals must take extra care with women carrying multiple babies.  Medical malpractice claims involving twins and multiples occur when a medical professional causes harm to a patient for failing to adhere to the standard of care that another reasonably prudent medical professional in the same specialty would have used when in the same situation.  There may be multiple parties that are responsible in any given medical malpractice case, including physicians, nurses, hospitals, pharmacists and even professional corporations. 

In order to establish medical malpractice, it must be proven that the patient was owed a duty of care by the medical professional, the medical professional breached the duty of care owed to the patient, and the patient suffered an injury or death as a direct result of the medical professional’s breach.

The following situations may be considered birth injury medical malpractice for multiple births:

  • Failure to attain the help of obstetric specialists to assist with a multiple gestation pregnancy;
  • Failure to recognize when a child is in breech or otherwise abnormal birth position;
  • Failure to conduct appropriate diagnostic tests that would have readily demonstrated a fetal health condition or abnormality;
  • Improperly trained doctors and staff;
  • Failure to move forward with a vaginal delivery;
  • Delayed decision to perform a cesarean section;
  • Failure to monitor for and/or detect fetal distress;
  • Improper use of a vacuum extractor or forceps;
  • Failure to administer oxygen to a newborn in distress;
  • Failure to diagnose a pregnancy related medical condition, such as gestational diabetes or preeclampsia;
  • Failure to diagnose and treat pregnancy labour and delivery complications associated with a multiple birth pregnancy; and
  • Failure to respond to the signs and symptoms of a delayed delivery.


If you or your baby was injured during a multiple birth delivery, you may be entitled to financial compensation if the injury was caused by medical malpractice.  At Cuming & Gillespie LLP we are committed to helping you and your loved ones.  We can assemble a team of legal and medical experts to ensure that you put forth the strongest case and receive the compensation you are entitled to.  With over 20 years of experience, the award winning lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie LLP have handled many different types of medical malpractice claims, and have the experience and knowledge to evaluate your case and help you decide whether you should pursue a claim.  Call us at 403-571-0555 or online today to book a free consultation.