August 16, 2016

Complications That Go Undiagnosed Can Pose Threat for Birth Injuries

The birth of a baby is one of the happiest events in the lives of parents. Yet for some, the emotions turn from joy to despair if a baby suffers an injury during birth. Birth injuries occur infrequently but they still happen from time to time. Those that are most at risk for injuries at birth are those where undiagnosed pregnancy complications exist. Complications include a variety of issues and any one of them may increase the chances that a baby will suffer an injury during labor or birth.

Serious Complications

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August 2, 2016

Erb’s Palsy in Newborns

Most babies are born without any complications, however, a small percentage of newborns have medical issues that may have been caused at birth. An injury to the brachial plexus can cause a condition called Erb’s palsy. Babies who suffer from this injury could have lifelong disabilities.

Brachial Plexus

The brachial plexus is a group of nerves located near the shoulder. It basically ties the physical function of the body to the spinal cord and brain and is located on both sides of the body. It can be injured when force is used to assist in the birth of the baby. The doctor may use forceps, a vacuum, or his hands to pull a baby who is stuck. When the neck and shoulders are stretched, damage to the brachial plexus may occur.

Erb’s Palsy

Erb’s palsy is also known by other names such as Erb-duchenne palsy, shoulder dystocia or radial nerve palsy. These are all forms of damage to the brachial plexus nerves. The muscles of the arm on one side of the body are not able to move properly, causing the arm to droop. Some people may have tingling in the hand or arm. In some cases, the entire arm, including the hand and fingers, are affected, while sometimes only a slight reduction in movement is noted.

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July 12, 2016

The Basics - What Babies At Risk for Birth Injuries?

Birth injuries occur to approximately 3 to 6 out of every 1,000 births in the United States. A birth injury is harm that happens to a child during the labor or delivery process. Birth injuries can range from mild to severe. Mild birth injuries are often treated and the infant makes a full recovery. More severe injuries may require ongoing treatment or surgery. Permanent or disabling injuries are the most severe types of birth injuries that usually occur due to lack of oxygen during birth. There are some important risk factors that make birth injuries more likely.

Premature Babies

Babies who are born prematurely are at a higher risk for birth injuries than full-term babies. Premature babies are those born at less than 37 weeks gestational age. These infants are at a higher risk because their organs may not be fully formed or functional. Jaundice is one of the main concerns for premature infant injuries. When treated promptly, jaundice typically poses no long-term medical harm and infants recover fully. However, if jaundice goes undiagnosed or treated it can lead to serious medical problems or even death.

Large Babies

Large babies or those who weigh more than 9 pounds may be at a higher risk for possible birth injuries. Large babies can more easily become stuck during delivery. When this occurs, the doctor may need to assist in the delivery by pulling the baby or through the use of instruments. Large babies are often born to mothers with diabetes or hypertension. Prenatal care should be done to confirm the size of the infant prior to delivery. If the baby is large, a cesarean section may be required to avoid the potential for injury during birth.

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June 19, 2016

Jaundice in Newborns

The birth of a child is one of the happiest days in a parent’s life. Sometimes, however, complications at birth can cause injuries to the baby. Sometimes these injuries are minor, while other times they could be quite serious. Jaundice is a common problem with newborns at birth. Jaundice is a condition that is characterized by yellow skin color. It can also affect the whites of the baby’s eyes. Jaundice is often easily treated with no further problems. However, sometimes jaundice may not be properly diagnosed or treated, leading to medical complications.

Diagnosis of Jaundice

in newborns can range in severity. Mild cases of jaundice may not require any type of treatment. More severe cases require immediate treatment. Doctors and other medical professionals should diagnose and treat jaundice as quickly as possible. Blood tests should be done to determine whether a child has elevated levels of bilirubin. Bilirubin is a substance that the body creates to remove dead blood cells. The substance is then broken down in the liver so it can be removed through waste.

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June 5, 2016

Brachial Plexus Newborn Injuries

Most babies are born without complications; however, some infants suffer injuries during birth. It is estimated that 6 to 8 out of every 1,000 newborns suffer birth injuries. These injuries include relatively minor injuries, as well as major, disabling medical problems. Of these injuries, some of the most common occur when there is damage to the brachial plexus during birth. Infants are particularly susceptible to suffering medical injuries because of improper handling or mistakes made during labor or delivery.

Brachial Plexus

The brachial plexus is a bundle of nerves that is located in the upper shoulder and neck area of the body. The nerves can be damaged when the area is pulled or pinched, such as can occur during a particularly difficult birth. When nerve damage happens it may be relatively minor and the child will eventually make a full recovery. Nerve damage may also be extensive. When the area is permanently damaged, permanent disability is the possible outcome. The child could have restricted movement of the shoulder, arm, and hand, as well as possible nerve problems that affect facial muscles. The problems are associated with the side of the body where the immediate damage happened.

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May 5, 2016

Newborn’s Injuries Blamed on Doctor’s Negligence

The birth of your baby is one of the best days of a parent’s life – unless something goes wrong. When a problem during labor or delivery occurs, it can cause injuries to the baby. Some of these injuries are minor, while other times they could be severe, or even life-threatening. A recent lawsuit was filed in Cook County claiming that the medical provider was negligent and caused a serious and permanent birth injury to an infant during delivery. The lawsuit is seeking damages in excess of $50,000 from each of five defendants, including Northwest Community Hospital, a medical center, and several members of the medical team.

Types of Birth Injuries

There are a number of different birth injuries that are the most common occurrences in newborns. Some of the most common injuries include bone fractures, brachial plexus injuries, and bruises. More serious injuries include hemorrhages, and asphyxia, which can cause brain damage. Many minor injuries will heal quickly with only minimal treatment while more severe injuries may require surgery and long-term care. Permanent injuries can cause life-long disabilities to the child and will certainly be emotionally challenging for the family, as well as extremely costly.

Clavicle Fracture

The infant in this case suffered a severe clavicle facture. The clavicle is also known as the collar bone. It is located near the brachial plexus, a bundle of nerves near the shoulder. When the clavicle is fractured it can cause damage to the brachial plexus, resulting in restricted movement of the arm or hand. It is estimated that as many as 1 in 11 infants with a clavicle fracture also suffer from a brachial plexus injury. The injury affects the nerves and they may heal after a period of time, depending on the extent of the injuries. Fractures can usually be avoided when doctors take proper care during labor and delivery.

Medical Negligence

In this case, the lawsuit states that the health care providers failed to take sufficient measures to ensure the health of the infant during birth. The doctors should have noticed that the birth was a difficult one, and therefore taken steps to provide a safe delivery. According to the paperwork, the medical team was negligent by failing to exercise proper care during delivery and by failing to recommend a cesarean section be performed, rather than proceed with a highly risky vaginal delivery. As a result, the infant suffered severe and permanent injuries.

Birth Injury Lawsuit

Birth injuries are unexpected and can be devastating to the parents. The child could face years of pain and may need to undergo numerous medical treatments and surgeries in order to recover. Sadly, some children will never fully recover. This will cause them to have a permanent disability, which will require ongoing care and treatment. There is nothing that can be done to change the unfortunate circumstances that resulted in the injuries; however, parents can make a claim to seek the compensation their child is entitled to.

The child in this case was severely injured and the parents are seeking damages on his behalf. Damages typically include money to cover medical costs, future treatment and care, money for pain and suffering, and for loss of enjoyment of life. If your infant was injured during birth due to negligence, you may be entitled to money. Contact the experienced legal team at Levin & Perconti to discuss your case.

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What to Do After a Birth Injury

Facial Nerve Palsy May be Caused by Birth Trauma

April 13, 2016

Facial Nerve Palsy May Be Caused by Birth Trauma

The birth of your child is the happiest day in a parent’s life, unless there is a problem. While most births happen without any complications, sometimes a mistake occurs that can cause a birth injury. Facial nerve palsy is one type of injury that can happen during the birth of a newborn. Facial nerve palsy is the loss of voluntary muscle control of the face. While it can be serious, the condition often goes away over time. The injury is caused by pressure put on the baby’s seventh cranial nerve during birth.

Seventh Cranial Nerve Damage

The seventh cranial nerve is located in the face or neck area. In infants, this nerve can be more easily damaged. Damage may occur when forceps are used to assist in extracting the baby. Some factors that could increase the likelihood of facial nerve palsy include a large birth weight baby, long labor, the use of an epidural, and the use of medication to hasten labor. These situations could make the birth more difficult and create a need for medical intervention during delivery. This could increase the possibility of a birth injury.

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March 10, 2016

Cerebral Palsy Can Be Caused by Injury during Birth

Cerebral palsy (CP) is a non-progressive brain disorder that causes impaired movement and development. CP is one of the most common causes of childhood disability. An estimated 10,000 infants are diagnosed with CP each year in the United States. Although the disorder is non-progressive the symptoms of brain damage may change over time. About half of the children diagnosed with CP also have seizures and some degree of mental retardation.

Causes of Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is a result of either a congenital defect or an injury at birth. An infection during pregnancy could damage the developing fetus, causing congenital brain damage. Infants who are severely jaundiced at birth may be susceptible to possible brain damage if the jaundice is not effectively treated. In some cases, the mother and baby have Rh incompatibility, which can cause jaundice leading to brain damage. In cases of birth injury, oxygen deprivation is a major factor that leads to cerebral palsy.

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February 10, 2016

Surgery Performed on Wrong Infant in Tennessee

The birth of a baby soon turned from joy to dismay when a doctor performed surgery on the wrong newborn. The incident happened recently at a Tennessee hospital. A doctor was supposed to perform surgery on a newborn but incorrectly asked for the wrong infant. The babies were in the nursery when the infant was sent for what was supposed to be a routine exam just hours after his birth. Instead of a simple exam, the nurse returned to the parents a couple of hours later to explain the procedure that was completed. The parents were in shock and were upset by the information. As it turns out, the doctor performed surgery on a completely healthy newborn rather than on the baby who required it.

Doctor Performed Frenotomy

Sometimes an infant is born with a tied tongue. This means that the tongue is connected to the mouth floor with a small tissue called a lingual frenulum. It is usually recommended that babies with tied-tongue have surgery, called a frenotomy, to remove the tissue. During the procedure the doctor clips the tissue to allow the tongue to move properly in the mouth. When the condition is noted the surgery is completed on a newborn because the incision should heal quickly and the baby will not have future problems with eating or speaking. However, the procedure should not be performed on an infant with a normal mouth. In this case, the doctor performed the frenotomy on a baby that was healthy.

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February 4, 2016

Neonatal Cooling May Help Oxygen Deprived Newborns

The birth of a baby is usually a joyful time for families, unless a severe birth injury causes harm to the newborn. One of the most common types of birth injuries is called hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). This is a reduced flow of oxygen to the baby’s brain during the birth process and is also a type of birth asphyxia. HIE may cause brain injuries that range from minor to severe. There are many factors that contribute to how a child with HIE will develop. Recent information indicates that reducing the body temperature immediately after the occurrence of a serious brain injury has a major positive impact on recovery. The baby’s brain has a much better chance of improvement when the body is cooled to slow metabolism.

Neonatal Cooling
A medical treatment for HIE, neonatal cooling requires the newborn to spend time at a lowered temperature for the immediate hours and days following birth. The cooling treatment reduces the body’s temperature and slows the metabolism. This gives the body a much better chance of recovering and is particularly important for brain recovery. Decreasing the body temperature has been shown to reduce the severity and extent of a brain injury in some cases. The body may be able to repair the damage thus reducing the extent of the damage done by lack of oxygen.

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January 19, 2016

Birth Trauma Poses Serious Consequences

The birth of a child should be a happy time, yet once in a while, the joy turns to sorrow when a baby faces birth trauma. Birth trauma may happen during an otherwise normal delivery. Birth trauma consists of a number of different medical problems that may include injuries to the face, head, shoulders, body, or abdomen. Injuries may range from mild to severe. Some injuries will heal quickly while others may have a more serious prognosis. Birth trauma injuries can be caused by the negligence of the doctor or other medical professionals who are delivering the baby.

Risk factors for Birth Trauma
There are some factors that may increase the risk for birth trauma. The most common risk factors are:
· Large Babies
· Breech Delivery
· Prolonged Labor
· Instrumentation Use During Delivery
· Excessive Traction During Delivery
· Large Head

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December 4, 2015

Some Common Birth Injuries Are Preventable

Most births are happy times for new parents and in most cases the birth goes well, without complications. However, sometimes there are complications that, if handled improperly, can cause serious and long-term harm to the newborn. Medical professionals must be ready to take care of all types of situations that could happen during labor and delivery. When the proper treatment is rendered in a speedy manner, the chances of serious injury or death are diminished. If doctors and others do not offer appropriate care they may be negligent in their actions, or lack of actions.

Brachial Plexus Injuries
The brachial plexus is a bundle of nerves that connects the spine, neck, shoulder, and arms. If damage occurs to this area during birth the infant may suffer injuries. The injuries may be mild and the child may recover completely after a few months or the damages could be permanent and severe. This type of injury most often happens when the child’s shoulders become stuck during birth. The doctor may need to pull the infant by using forceps or a vacuum instrument.

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October 24, 2015

Harmful Effects of Epidurals during Childbirth

Childbirth is one of the most rewarding experiences in life; however, it can also be one of the most painful. To counteract the pain, many doctors and hospitals offer epidurals. According to the American Pregnancy Association, epidurals are the most common type of pain relief used during labor. While epidurals are generally considered safe, they do come with some risks. When an epidural goes wrong, the results can be devastating.

What Are Epidurals?
An epidural is a type of local anesthesia that is administered for management of pain associated with childbirth. A catheter is typically inserted into the lower back to allow for easy management of the drug. When needed, the anesthesia is administered into the back. This type of epidural is also sometimes called a walking epidural because it allows the patient to move more freely. Various medications are utilized in epidurals. Pain relief may last from 4 to 8 hours. One of the main advantages of an epidural is that it allows the woman to be awake and participate fully during labor and birth.

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October 15, 2015

When Medical Mistakes Happen During Childbirth

One of the most common types of medical malpractice happens during labor and delivery. Even with the latest technology and support, errors can and do happen. These problems could have been avoided and thus are considered medical negligence. If you or a family member has suffered due to a mistake made by a doctor or member of the medical staff, it is possible to recover damages.

Medical Errors
While medical errors are not common, they do occur from time to time. Unfortunately, mistakes made during the delivery process can have a devastating and lasting effect on the child and his or her family. When childbirth complications are mishandled the result may be a child who is diagnosed with cerebral palsy or other type of brain injury. A prolonged labor or one where the proper procedures were not followed could create a risky situation. Physicians and other medical professionals must take the proper steps to ensure that the birth was attended to correctly. If you feel as though the birth was not handled correctly, you may be right. It is certainly worth further investigation.

Possible Signs of Medical Errors
Sometimes an event may take place during the birthing process that signals a possible error has occurred or is more likely to happen. Some of these include:

· Excessive bleeding or pain
· Absence of the use of a fetal heart monitor
· Abnormal pain or bleeding that has not been addressed
· Low or atypical heat rate of fetus
· Use of oxygen or forceps without consent and explanation of risks
· Lack of fetal movement that is not quickly addressed
· Pediatric team not ready or available at time of birth
· Inappropriate use of anesthetic or oxygen

It may be difficult to remember all the steps that were or were not taken while in labor. For this reason it is helpful to have your partner available to take notes and ensure that the nurse or doctor is contacted immediately if a problem arises.

Diagnosis of Birth Injuries
Sometimes children cannot be properly diagnosed with a brain injury until they begin to develop. There are many varying degrees of brain injuries that could become known as the child grows. Only after a complete diagnosis can the cause of the problem be determined. Many times, the diagnosis and cause are not found out immediately. Childbirth injuries are devastating and take an emotional toll on the entire family. In addition to being a very traumatic situation, it is also puts the parents in a difficult financial situation. Treatments and care costs can be expensive and may need to continue well into the future. Parents need to seek compensation for these costs.

Experienced Medical Malpractice Attorney
Childbirth injuries create complex medical and legal conditions that require attention. The dedicated legal team at Levin & Perconti provides the expertise and experience necessary in these types of complex cases. We understand that no amount of money or legal action can make the problem go away. However, it is essential to get the compensation you deserve and make sure that the problem won’t happen to others in the future. If you feel you may be the victim of medical malpractice contact Levin & Perconti Attorneys at Law today.

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The Risks Associated with Epidurals

September 29, 2015

The Risks Associated with Epidurals

Epidurals are so commonly used during child birthing that they often seem like an integral part of the process. Many women expect to receive one as a pain medication resource and many physicians routinely give them to every single mother laboring mother. However, the risk involved in receiving an epidural requires thoughtful and personalized consideration.

What is an Epidural?

According to Baby Center, United States physicians use epidurals to manage labor pain more often than any other type of pain medication. An epidural is administered through the insertion of a catheter into the area surrounding the spinal cord and fluid. The procedure lessens the sensation of pain in the lower body by interrupting nerve signals between the sensory and motor nerves, but it still allows you some feeling. Though epidurals are commonly given after active labor begins, the recent trend is to administer it in the earlier stages of labor if requested by the mother.

The Potential Problems

While the epidural is interfering with the nerve signals to lessen pain, it is also interfering with hormones that the female body produces during labor and childbirth, according to natural health expert Chris Kessler.

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July 7, 2015

What Hospitals Don’t Say Could Hurt Your Infant

When parents choose a medical center to care for their labor and delivery needs, they also expect that the hospital will be capable of adequately handling any complications that may arise with the newborn. Reputation and track record go a long way in demonstrating whether your health care providers are truly fit to manage your birthing procedure, as well as your new bundle of joy. The poor track record of one Florida hospital attracted the attention of the federal government and their investigation may lead to a significant amount of financial liability.
An article on is reporting about a West Palm Beach medical center that routinely performs open heart surgeries on infants and babies.

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June 25, 2015

The Dangers of an Incorrect Due Date

Expectant mothers rely on their treating physicians to promote their health, as well as the health of their babies. Part of this responsibility includes the accurate and timely diagnosis of disorders and potential problems. If this task is not carried out adequately, the result can be fatal. When a pregnancy is first diagnosed, one of the details that the mother is most concerned with is the age of the fetus. The due date becomes stamped in the minds and hearts of family and friends, as parents anticipate the arrival of a new life. But an inaccurate gestational age diagnosis can prove much more serious than the inconvenience and disappointment it can cause.

A study on discusses the potential risks of misdiagnosing the gestational age of a fetus. According to the report, about 66% of babies are born relatively close to their due dates, meaning within ten days. Variation from one pregnancy to another is expected, with factors like age, race and multiple births all playing a part in the normal gestational term.

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June 16, 2015

Are Hospitals the Safest Choice for Your Birth?

When expecting a child, parents are faced with a variety of options. They want to make decisions that are in the best interest of the baby and their family. Some of the most important choices involve medical treatments and the birthing process. Parents may take a considerable amount of time to research and choose the right physician. After all, this is the person who cares for the mother and fetus during pregnancy, and ensures that the baby is brought into the world safely. A growing number of parents choose a different route, opting for a midwife instead of a doctor and deciding to have a home birth.

A Continuing Debate

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May 5, 2015

Injury Basics - The Risks of Breech Births

As the world celebrates the birth of a new royal princess, it is important to also recognize the risks of childbirth to both the mother and the baby. Parents expect physicians to act in a professional manner when diagnosing and treating problems that arise during pregnancy. When doctors do not meet these standards, the results can prove devastating for the entire family.

A breech positioning is one condition that should cause considerable concern for the treating physician. The healthiest position for an infant in the womb is facing down, so the head is the closest body part to the birthing canal. When babies deliver head first, the rest of the body has an easier transition through the canal. Breech positioning occurs when the baby's feet or buttocks are closest to the birthing canal.

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April 8, 2015

Back to the Basics - The Dangers of a Vacuum Extraction

When labor begins, it is vitally important to deliver the newborn in an adequate amount of time. Extended labor can prove dangerous for the mother, as well as the baby. When faced with the situation, physicians commonly employ tools to assist with the delivery process. The decisions made during this time are extremely important and often mean the difference between a healthy delivery and a birth related injury.

Vacuum extraction is one of the tools often used in these situations. A cap-like cup is placed on the head of the baby. An attached vacuum is then used to apply gentle suction and guide the baby through the birth canal. Physicians may choose this method of delivery as an alternative to a Cesarean section, but the risks of a vacuum extraction may not be worth employing this option.

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March 23, 2015

FDA Issues Warning About Keepsake Image Businesses to Expectant Parents

Expecting parents cannot wait for that first glimpse of their new baby. They make predictions about eye color and hair type. The ultrasound image becomes the first portrait of the baby. Unfortunately, the clarity of a traditional ultrasound leaves much to the imagination. Countless fathers have pretended to see a foot or a hand, when they really see nothing but masses of black and white. In the age of 3D, those grainy and unclear pictures are transformed into 3D images, with unmistakable details.

The popularity of these 3D ultrasounds grew so quickly, that they moved from the doctor’s office into strip malls and boutiques. However, as tempting as these “keepsake ultrasounds” are, The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning parents about their potential dangers, asserting that an instant keepsake can potentially lead to long term birth injuries.

The FDA's Warning

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February 22, 2015

Abrupted Placenta Place Babies in Danger

Abruptop placentae or placental abruption is an uncommon, but serious condition in pregnancy. According to the Mayo Clinic, the placenta develops inside the uterus to provide nourishment for the fetus during development. This circular shaped organ attaches to the walls, passing oxygen and nutrients to the baby through the umbilical cord. It also produces hormones that promote the healthy growth of the fetus.

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February 19, 2015

Saving Lives: Preventing BPD in Infants

Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia (BPD) is a serious lung disease affecting newborns. According to the American Lung Association, it generally occurs in premature infants who are born more than 10 weeks early. It is often seen as a complication of respiratory distress syndrome (RDS), where the lungs of the baby are not developed enough to take in an adequate amount of air. Treatment of RDS generally requires a breathing machine to assist the infant in breathing. Flexible plastic tubing is placed into the trachea for the purpose of opening the airway. Unfortunately, the process often leads to the development of BPD with symptoms that include lung inflammation and scarring.

BPD is reportedly a leading cause of early death among extremely low birth weigh newborns. For this reason, physicians often prefer alternative treatments to invasive breathing machines. A recent study in The New England Journal of Medicine compared the effectiveness of noninvasive ventilation strategies.

The Study Details

Participants were chosen among 34 neonatal units, across 10 countries. Each infant was screened to ensure their appropriateness for noninvasive respiratory support. Half of the participants were treated with Nasal Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP). With this treatment, a mask with nasal prongs is placed over the infant's face and continuously exerts pressure that prevents collapse of the lungs. It closely resembles the machine that many adults use to treat sleep apnea during the night.

The second set of infants were treated with Nasal Intermittent Positive Ventilation (IPPV), which gives “continuous positive airway pressure with extra breaths,” according to a report by MedicineNet.

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February 12, 2015

Pregnancy & Birth Risks: Early Preeclampsia and Fetal Death

Preeclampsia is a serious medical condition that can prove fatal for the mother and child. A study in the March issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology finds a significantly increased risk of fetal death when the mother is diagnosed with preeclampsia prior to 20 weeks of pregnancy. The Mayo Clinic defines preeclampsia as a condition where the expecting mother shows signs of elevated blood pressure and some form of organ damage, commonly in the kidney area. While it is normally diagnosed after 20 weeks of gestation, a woman may exhibit signs earlier.

The Study Details

Study researchers set out to determine whether the timing of preeclampsia onset affects the risk for fetal death. Experts reviewed over half a million birth records of mothers diagnosed with preeclampsia, with no preexisting hypertension issues. They then compared the rate of fetal death to the time of diagnosis. They concluded that the risk for fetal death is higher when preeclampsia appears earlier in pregnancy.

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February 6, 2015

The Link Between Flame Retardants and Preterm Births

Pregnancy is a delicate time in a woman's life. Aside from your own well being, you constantly concern yourself with the health of your baby. Expectant mothers watch what they eat and avoid taking certain medications. They are also careful about which chemicals they put in and on their bodies. The necessary precautions during pregnancy are numerous, and researchers recently added another one to the already long list.

Physicians at the University of Texas Medical Branch recently discovered a new link between preterm birth and a chemical commonly found in everyday life. As reported by Medical Xpress, researchers believe that exposure to flame retardant material during pregnancy contributes to preterm births. The study was completed in collaboration with Kaiser Permanente California. Researchers collected blood samples from expectant mothers as they entered the labor and delivery section of the hospital. Upon review, they concluded that women with higher levels of flame retardant chemicals were more likely to deliver preterm.

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January 7, 2015

FDA Speaks About Pain Medications and Pregnancy

The joys of pregnancy are unfortunately mixed with a variety of aches and pains. From back strains to swollen feet, expectant mothers deal with a lot in their quest to bring new life into the world. To help women deal with these issues, physicians often prescribe pain medications as a way of managing the symptoms and making them more bearable for the pregnant mother. However, recent studies suggest that the usage of these medicines during pregnancy may have an adverse effect on the health and well-being of the newborn baby. When prescribing doctors do not adequately consider these risks and an injury results, a court of law may find liability and award compensation.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently released a safety announcement regarding the level of risk involved in taking pain medications during pregnancy. Acknowledging concerns about the safety of these medications, the government agency reviewed results from several published studies on the issue. The medications and injuries considered were:

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December 3, 2014

Pre-Term Births Are the Leading Cause of Newborn Deaths

An extreme amount of caution is necessary when bringing a child into the world. Mothers trust their physicians to make appropriate decisions and facilitate a safe delivery. Unfortunately, these responsibilities are not always met, which can lead to a target="_blank"newborn injury. Birth injuries can occur through out the pregnancy, as well as during delivery. One of the most common causes of injury is preterm birth, which occurs when the baby is delivered prior to 37 weeks of pregnancy. Recent reports call it the leading cause of death among infants around the world.

According to National Public Radio (NPR), internationally, more than a million children die each year from premature birth-related complications. These numbers resulted from a study by the World Health Organization, along working with several other medical researchers. Though the highest rates of death occur in India and Nigeria, these statistics still highlight the dangers of preterm birth within the United States, particularly when adequate care is not provided.

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November 18, 2014

The Risk of Injury from Gestational Diabetes

Diabetes is an extremely serious health concern that affects the way cells handle glucose, or sugar, within the body. The condition can lead to serious injury, and even death, if not treated properly. When a woman develops the disease during her pregnancy, it is called gestational diabetes, and adequate care is necessary for the health of the mother, as well as the baby. Physicians are responsible for the timely diagnosis and treatment of gestational diabetes. When this responsibility is not met, the consequences are devastating. With the assistance of an experienced attorney, an injured mother and child can secure the compensation that is warranted by this type of pregnancy error.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

Though the exact cause of gestational diabetes is unknown, experts do know that pregnancy affects the way your body processes glucose. According to the Mayo Clinic, the body develops sugar from the foods you digest. This sugar is sent to the bloodstream and your pancreas produces insulin. This is a hormone that helps the body's cells convert the glucose into energy for the body. When pregnant, the placenta connects the fetus to the blood stream. It is constantly producing a variety of hormones and some of them stop the work of the insulin in the blood. This causes the blood sugar to elevate. Many pregnant women are able to balance these periodic elevations. However, some women reportedly produce too many of these insulin blocking hormones, causing the blood sugar levels to reach dangerous highs.

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October 21, 2014

Understanding the Risk of Chorioamnionitis

Expectant mothers should exercise vigilance to protect themselves from infections and sickness. Left untreated, some conditions can lead to serious consequences for mother, as well as well as the infant. Chorioamnionitis is a condition that occurs when bacteria infects the membrane that surrounds the fetus in the womb. According to the Cleveland Clinic, it occurs in 2% of pregnancies in America and is a major cause of premature births.

Chorioamnionitis reportedly starts with a bacterial infection within the urogenital tract of the mother. Is may begin in the vagina, anus or rectum. The infection moves through the tract, eventually reaching the uterus where the growing fetus is located. The most common infections include E. Coli and Streptococci.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Though chorioamnionitis can present with no symptoms, pregnant women generally show some signs, including:

-Fever, with a highly elevated temperature

-A rapid heartbeat from the mother, as well as the fetus

-Profuse sweating

-Stomach pain, from a uterus that is tender to the touch

-Unusual smelling vaginal discharge

It is most often diagnosed when a patient exhibits symptoms, which should prompt the treating doctor to conduct further testing. This may include a blood sampling to check for bacteria. Alternatively, the doctor may check the levels of amniotic fluid by taking samples of the amniotic fluid from within the womb. This is done with through a procedure called an amniocentesis. Your physician can also use ultrasound images to check the well being of the fetus. Even when no symptoms are present, experts suggest that doctors screen all pregnant women for Streptococci around 35 weeks of gestation.

Once diagnosed, mothers with mild cases of chorioamnionitis are prescribed antibiotics to treat the underlying infection. More serious cases may necessitate the premature delivery, in order to administer antibiotics to the infant as well. Left untreated or undiagnosed, the condition can lead to serious consequences, including:

-Worsening infections occurring with the pelvic region of abdomen

-Blood clotting within the pelvis and lungs. This can lead to an inadequate supply of blood and oxygen to the heart and the brain. Heart attacks, brain injuries or death can result.

-Endometriosis is an infection within the lining of the uterus that causes abnormal cell growth. These cells attach themselves to the the uterine walls. Though most pregnancies can proceed to term after a diagnosis of endometriosis, some studies reportedly suggest that it can lead to premature births.

-Sepsis occurs when the body releases an over abundant amount of chemicals into the blood to fight off infection. This can cause severe inflammation throughout the body, decreasing effective blood flow and elevating the risk of organ failure.

When physicians fail to take the standard procedures necessary to diagnose and treat chorioamnionitis, the consequences can prove devastating to the mother and baby. With the assistance of an experienced attorney, victims can secure the compensation that they deserve.
If you or your baby experienced a chorioamnionitis related birth injury, and you believe the doctor or hospital may be responsible, contact experienced birth injury attorneys.

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October 15, 2014

States Refuse to Cover Midwife Deliveries Under Medicaid

Oregon lawmakers want to implement a new law that will expand Medicaid insurance coverage for expectant mothers who choose to give birth outside of traditional hospitals. According to recent reports, passage of the law will allow state Medicaid payments for births occurring in private homes and birthing centers. Direct Entry Midwives (DEMs) often perform birthing procedures in these unconventional settings and the Oregon Medicaid program generally does not cover their services. The reason behind the decision to withhold coverage exemplifies a common concern regarding midwives and the services they provide.

DEMs begin practicing as soon as they finish their training and certification. By comparison, nurse midwives only enter the field after obtaining a formal nursing license. Though it varies by state, most DEMs obtain Certified Professional Midwife credentials from the North American Registry of Midwives. Despite this certification, most states, including Illinois, refuse to cover their services under state funded insurance plans.

The Decision Not to Cover

In making coverage decisions, the state weighs general insurance expenditures with the cost of potential problems during delivery. Birthing complications can necessitate additional medical care for mothers, as well as infants. These safety risks significantly raise the cost to insurance companies for these specific cases.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), almost 14,000,000 births occurred in the United States between 2006 and 2009. While approximately 91% of these births were completed by hospital physicians, about 9% were delivered by nurse wives. Among all midwife births, neonatal deaths occurred at a rate of .32 per 1,000 hospital births and 1.26 per 1000 at-home births. These high death risks lead states to deny insurance coverage.

Continue reading "States Refuse to Cover Midwife Deliveries Under Medicaid" »

October 10, 2014

Infant Injury Data Renews Efforts for Maryland Compensation Fund

The possibility of a statewide birth injury compensation fund has returned to the forefront, as the state of Maryland deals with some disturbing numbers about fatalities and injuries to birthing mothers and infants. The Baltimore Business Journal is reporting that 2013 statistics show a slight increase in infant mortality, along with a significant spike in substance related deaths among pregnant women and new mothers. For years, the state reportedly experienced a steady decline in infant deaths, so these new numbers are leading health officials to examine the availability adequacy of medical birthing services.

In 2013, the obstetrics department at University of Maryland Medical Center Midtown Campus was closed. In addition, Mercy Medical Center reportedly stopped working with a well known midwife service to provide obstetric care. These changes represent a decline in maternity services and, according to the report, doctors are blaming birth injury lawsuits. These physicians argue that large birth injury payouts drive up the high cost of malpractice insurance.

This allegedly turns doctors and medical centers away from this area of medical practice.
Plaintiff advocates take a different approach to the issue, directing the fault towards doctors who provide ineffective care. When they make mistakes, victims are left with a lifetime of physical and mental health issues, in addition to astronomical medical expenses. Without the option of malpractice lawsuits, these innocent patients have no adequate recourse.
According to reports, the actual cost of medical malpractice insurance makes up less than three percent of total health care costs. Additionally, payouts from malpractice lawsuits account for about 45 percent of premiums collected, while the insurance companies keep 55 percent. This begs the question whether physician's concerns are better directed towards insurance companies than patient victims.

Continue reading "Infant Injury Data Renews Efforts for Maryland Compensation Fund" »

September 7, 2014

New Study May Reduce Brain Damage in Premature Babies

Premature births occur when babies are born prior to 37 weeks of gestation. The condition occurs for a number of different reasons, including mistakes or negligence by medical professionals. Mothers of premature babies deal with significant anxieties and fears. Along with the natural worries of any new mother, they are also faced with the possibility that their babies may not survive. This is because preemies are at an extreme risk due to the numerous complications that accompany premature births. Immature lungs are one of the most dangerous issues, often leading to traumatic brain injuries. According to a recent report by Fox News, researchers are working on a hormone to protect the brains of premature babies.

The American Pregnancy Association explains that the lungs of a fetus generally mature around the 36th week of gestation. When it is necessary to deliver a baby prior to this time, the physician may make the decision to inject the fetus with steroids that make the lungs develop at a faster rate. Conditions related to immature lungs include:

Continue reading "New Study May Reduce Brain Damage in Premature Babies" »

June 13, 2014

Understanding The Dangers of Ectopic Pregnancy

Ectopic pregnancies occur when the fertilized egg implants outside of the uterus. This usually occurs in the fallopian tube and is commonly referred to as a tubal pregnancy. During a normal pregnancy, fertilization occurs in the tubes and the egg is then moved to the uterus by hairs on the walls of the fallopian tubes. If the tube is blocked or injured in some way, the egg may become stuck and begin to develop inside of the tube. The fetus cannot correctly grow outside of the uterus. In addition, the condition is dangerous to the health of the mother. For this reason, ectopic pregnancies are generally terminated. Though the occurrences are rare, these pregnancies are becoming more common, partly due to complications with various forms of birth control.

According to the Mayo Clinic, initial signs of an ectopic pregnancy are no different from those of a healthy pregnancy. A woman may experience nausea and missed periods. As the pregnancy advances, the mother may reportedly feel pains in the abdomen and pelvis. Vaginal bleeding may also start to occur.

Continue reading "Understanding The Dangers of Ectopic Pregnancy" »

May 4, 2014

HIV Medications and Birth Defects in Newborns

A recent study found that HIV drugs, given to women during pregnancy, pose a slightly higher risk of harm to the unborn baby. An article, published by HealthDay News, discusses the outcome of the study and weighs the risk of prescribing HIV drugs prenatally. Researchers studied more than 1,300 French children born between 1994 and 2010. All of them were born to mothers who were HIV infected and prescribed antiretroviral medications during their pregnancies. According to researchers, the drug zidovudine was associated with a 1.2 increase in the risk of heart defects among the newborns. Additionally, the drug efavirenz reportedly resulted in a 0.7 increase in the likelihood of neurological defects among the studied children.

According to the report, researchers concluded that the increase in risk is minor compared to the value of prescribing antiretroviral medications to these mothers during pregnancy. Lynne Mofenson of the National Institute of Health (NIH) was included in the article. She reportedly asserted that current prescription habits for HIV infected mothers should not be altered, because of these findings. However, she did warn that usage of these drugs should undergo continuous scrutiny.

National Institute of Health Advice to Mothers

The NIH advises pregnancy mothers with HIV to discuss various medication options with their physicians. Their website explicitly states that “some HIV/AIDS medicines may harm your baby.” It also explains that HIV infected mothers may need medications for their own health or solely to prevent the transmission of the disease to the fetus. The NIH gives the following guidelines and explanations for HIV infected mothers:

***Mothers needing anti-HIV medication for their own health can start taking prescriptions either prior to pregnancy or upon becoming pregnant.
***Mothers needing anti-HIV medication solely to prevent transmission may wait until after the first trimester to start taking the medications
***The earlier a medication regimen is started, the more effective it is in reducing the risk of transmission
***All HIV-infected pregnant women should take some form of anti-HIV medication by the second trimester of pregnancy

In regards to the best types of medication, the NIH suggests a combination that is specific to individual circumstances and needs. They also advise physicians to do the following when making prescription decisions:

***Determine whether medications are needed for the mother's health or baby's health
***Consider changes in the way that the patient's body will absorb medication due to pregnancy
***Examine and discuss the potential for birth defects and physical harm to the newborn baby

Though the research study identified two antiretroviral medications that increase the risk of birth defects, the report stated that several other medications showed no increase in the risk to newborns. When making decisions about medication regimens, physicians should weigh the various alternatives and make decisions that best protect the mother and the child. If a doctor fails to meet this duty and an injury ensues, there may be a case for medical malpractice liability.

If you were prescribed an anti-HIV medication during pregnancy and your child was born with a birth defect, a birth injury attorneys with knowledge and skill to guide you through the legal merits of your individual situation.

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April 25, 2014

The Possible Link Between Psychiatric Drugs and Newborn Disabilities

A recent study by the Bloomberg School of Health suggests a link between specific psychiatric medications and developmental disabilities among male babies. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are commonly prescribed to treat psychiatric disorders, like anxiety and depression. According the study findings, which are being reported in Science Daily, boys are at a higher risk of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and developmental delays (DD) when their mothers were prescribed these medications during pregnancy. Researches reportedly observed close to 1000 women and their children. The group was broken into three subgroups: children with ADS; children with DD; and children who are developing in a typical manner.

According to researchers, the mother's of boys with ASD were nearly three times more likely to have been prescribed SSSRIs during their pregnancies. Additionally, the greatest risk occurred when the medications were taken during the first trimester. Higher exposure levels were also reportedly found among boys with DD, with the greatest risk occurring with third trimester medication prescriptions. Researchers explained that serotonin is an essential aspect of brain development. Exposure to SSRIs in the womb can alter the serotonin levels, possibly affecting the progression of the fetus.

The Frequency and Cost of ASD

ADS is on the rise among newborns and young children. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that approximately 1 in every 68 children is diagnosed with ASD. Its symptoms can reportedly vary from speech impediments to extensive developmental disabilities, like autism or cerebral palsy. The CDC advises that diagnosis of ASD largely begins with the observations of the parents. Signs of developmental disabilities may become noticeable in babies as young as six months in age. Problems with vision and hearing were generally reported closer to the first birthday, along with communication and motor skill delays.

The cost of raising a child with ASD can cause financial challenges for a family. According to the CDC:

It costs about $17,000 more per year to raise a child with ASD. These extra costs encompass medical care, counseling, and family support services.

That number increases to $21,000 per year for families raising children with severe ASD.

Yearly medical costs for children with ASD are between four and six times greater than costs for children without ASD.

These findings can create a difficult challenge for pregnant women. The National Institute of Health reports that instances of depression among women are highest during the childbearing years of life. Women who are already dealing with particularly stressful home lives or financial situations may feel overwhelmed by their pregnancies. In addition, the biological changes that accompany pregnancy can cause negative effects on the section of the brain that controls the mood. According to the NIH, some studies support a link a between prenatal depression and complications during delivery. Physicians have a responsibility to weigh the pros and cons of SSRIs during pregnancy before prescribing these medications. Women trust them to make a decision that protects the mother, as well as the newborn. When a doctor falls short of this responsibility, malpractice is an issue for consideration by the courts.

If you were prescribed a psychotropic medication during pregnancy and your child is demonstrating developmental disabilities, call an experienced attorney for a free consultation.

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March 13, 2014

Researchers Tackling Preterm Brain Injuries

Virtually all Illinois residents know that infants born prematurely often face difficult odds and have increased risk of suffering various injuries. This is to be expected, as the very idea of a “pre” term birth is that the child was not given the preferred amount of time to develop in the womb before being born--the underdevelopment can have many ramifications.

Fortunately, medical researchers never just accept that certain injuries may arise--they work to find solutions. However, before finding cures or understanding preventative steps, professionals must first appreciate exactly what causes each injury. Figuring out what is causing harm is sometimes even more difficult than finding a solution.

According to reports from the American Journal of Reproductive Immunology, one group of researchers is working to better under the mechanisms behind preterm brain injuries with the ultimate goal of developing treatments for those at risk.

The New Birth Injury Research
The root of the new research is evidence from testing in mice that an inflammatory protein produced by a pregnant mother can cause brain damage in a developing fetus. The protein usually produces a response by the body in order to fight off an infection. In the study, the injuries involved a lack of “dendrites” in the brain. These dendrites attach to neurons and create synapses helping in neuron communication. This includes the “fingerlike” connections that are so crucial for many different cognitive functions.

Interestingly, in the past research believed that the protein caused a premature birth which then led to brain injury, But after more fine-tuned investigation, they believe that the protein only causes the brain injury, not a preterm birth itself.

These distinctions are critical, because they can make all the differences in uncovering treatment options. In the case of this protein, researchers noted that an anti-inflammatory drug worked on the mice to quell the brain injury and prevent damage--but not prevent the preterm birth. The drug is currently approved by the FDA to treat rheumatoid arthritis. Researchers noted that there are no known side-effect risks for pregnant woman, and so the drug may eventually prove incredibly useful for those babies at risk of this preterm neurological damage. Those involved in this particular study noting that use in humans remains a bit off. Naturally, considerable caution is exercised before implemented new treatments that may affect a human mother and child.

The medical experts working on these matters are not limiting their work only to this particular inflammatory protein issue. Researchers note that they are taking a wide look at all of the many mechanisms involved in an attempt to understand the various factors at play in both fetal brain injuries and preterm births themselves. As already noted, the experts were surprised to learn that the brain injury and early birth may have separate underlying causes. This differed from the expectation that something about the early birth itself caused the brain damage.

Legal Help
As the above discussion shows, there is immense complexity to all of these issues. If your child suffered an injury during birth and you have questions about whether it is appropriate to pursue legal accountability, please contact the injury attorneys at our firm to see how we can help.

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March 6, 2014

State Regulations Fall Behind As Popularity of Midwives and Homebirths Rises

New and evolving models for health care delivery have increased the opportunity for physicians, midwives and other healthcare providers to all be involved in the treatment of the same patient. While physicians have dealt with malpractice for years, the unique and seeming surge in the popularity of midwives in the healthcare industry prompts renewed consideration of midwife liability and standards.

In 2012, an Oregon couple sued the state and their midwife, among other people, for complications that occurred during the birth of their son.

The basis of the couple’s suit was that no monitoring equipment was used to check the fetal heart rate. As a result, when born, the infant did not respond to stimulation and did not breathe on his own. He was taken to hospital and 10 days later was discharged with signs of brain damage caused by oxygen starvation. The baby suffered, among other things, significant brain damage and cerebral palsy.

The parents of the child sued for $28 million in non-economic damages as well as $22.5 million in economic damages in the form of ongoing medical and therapeutic care, lost wages, and emotional distress.

In addition to the midwife, the couple sued the state. Alleging that, though the state has a list of “absolute risk factors” for birthing centers whereby when a risk factor is present, a pregnant mother should be transferred to a higher level of care, like a hospital, that such regulations are frivolous. One such risk factors is hypertension. The state of Oregon listed the threshold at a blood pressure of 150/100. According to the lawsuit, that threshold was “inappropriate and not evidence based.”

A similar case was filed in Michigan.

Both these cases have been used as examples of why some believe states should amp up their regulation of the growing midwife industry. Although they account for less than 1 percent of all births nationwide, the number of planned non-hospital births with midwives rose nearly 30 percent between 1990 and 2009, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

All across the country, there are lax standards for homebirth midwives. Some major concerns in many states are:

--Since licenses are not required, they can’t be charged for practicing without a license.
--Because licenses are not required, there are no standards of practice they are bound to follow and there are no penalties for violating reasonable standards of practice.
--There are no standards for the use of the term “midwife”, so they can’t be charged for falsely representing their skills.
--There are no educational standards
--There is no insurance required.

Years ago, though homebirth dramatically increased the risk of perinatal death, lawsuits rarely followed in the wake of those deaths. However, now that midwives are no longer neighborhood caretakers and have transitioned into business professionals or healthcare providers, the litigation rate has increased.

While many more suits are being filed, that does not mean that they are all won. Most people would agree that an angry parent can sue anybody but that doesn't mean that they have a case, and that doesn't preclude a midwife from winning and filing a countersuit for a malicious lawsuit.

Generally, in medical malpractice cases a plaintiff needs an expert to show that the care provided was below the industry standard, that the sub-par care cause them some harm, and that there are some damages. The problem with proving such a medical malpractice case against a midwife is that often, in many states, there are no industry standards for comparison purposes.

While there are organizations aimed at increases the validity and safety of the midwife profession, such as the Midwives Alliance of North America (MANA), it is likely safe to say that many problematic and deadly birthing incidents could be avoided with a revamping of state regulations.

February 17, 2014

AOL CEO’s Comments on Preemies Highlight Need for Focus on Premature Births

This week, AOL CEO Tim Armstrong spoke with employees during a company-wide meeting on changes to employee benefits. Armstrong spoke with employees about why company contributions to retirement accounts were delayed. Armstrong blamed rising healthcare costs for AOL on the Affordable Care Act, stating:

"We had two AOLers that had distressed babies that were born that we paid $1 million each to make sure those babies were OK in general.”

Rather than inspiring understanding and agreement, Armstrong’s comments alienated AOL employees from upper management. Deanna Fei, the wife of an AOL employee and the mother of a 16-month-old, gave birth 4 months prematurely and spoke out against AOL.

"The suggestion that her very existence could be called into question and blamed for corporate cost-cutting made me really furious," Fei said.

AOL employees weren’t the only ones who were disgusted by Armstrong’s comment. The media began picking up the story, and soon, Fei was being interviewed by national news outlets about the experience she went through with her premature daughter and how Armstrong’s comments cut her.

The public outcry against Armstrong’s comments was so severe that AOL reverted back to its old policy. Armstrong called Fei personally to apologize. According to Fei, "I just hope that in the future we'll be more careful about reducing human life to a monetary figure.”

This AOL controversy has highlighted the nation’s need to discuss the treatment of and care of premature babies. Modern medicine has failed at preventing premature birth. In fact, 12% of U.S. babies are born prematurely, costing the United States $26 billion annually. $12 billion of this was paid by employers. In addition, premature babies face difficult and dangerous deliveries and often spend weeks in the hospital hooked up to various medical equipment. The risks of birth injury and infant mortality increase drastically in a premature birth. In fact, the most common birth injury in preemies is a brain injury. Common brain injuries include cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and ADHD.

Many of these birth injuries are caused by the lack of oxygen in the days and weeks following premature birth. This damages the brain, which is still developing its neural network, the operating system that carries neural messages from the brain to the body. Scientists have been working on detecting these injuries and are now able to use an MRI scanner to safely scan preterm babies to detect brain injuries early on. However, scientists are still at a loss on how to prevent or even repair these birth injuries.

While Armstrong’s comments were meant as a condemnation of the Affordable Care Act’s effect on employers, they serve as a starting point for a discussion on premature infants and the need for increased prevention and treatment options of birth injuries associated with preemies.

If you or a loved one gave birth to a premature infant that subsequently suffered a birth injury, please do not hesitate to contact Levin & Perconti to review your case and discuss your options.

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January 30, 2014

Cesarean Birth Rates on the Decline

For the first time in 6 years, Cesarean birth rates are on the decline. A CDC study reported that Cesarean sections declined nationally by 2% in 2012. First-time Cesarean birth rates had increased each year between 2006 and 2012. However, according to 19 states that reported to the CDC in 2012, only 21.9% of first-time births involved Cesarean sections. This represents a return to the 2006 rate, and health advocates are hopeful this decline will continue.

Women who have Cesarean sections for their first births are likely to seek Cesarean sections voluntarily for all subsequent births. In fact, only 10% of women who had Cesarean sections for their first births have a vaginal birth for their second or subsequent births. About 33% of all births in the United States are Cesarean sections, approximately 21.9% of which are first-time births.

Recently, health officials and advocates have worked to curb interest in voluntary first-time Cesarean sections, and advocates are pleased with the CDC’s findings. Risks of birth injuries and infant mortality rates increase with Cesarean sections. In fact, the risks of pregnancy complications and infant mortality increase with each subsequent Cesarean. Health advocates have been working over the last several decades to decrease interest in Cesarean sections, touting the dangers of the procedure.

Cesarean sections are more traumatic for the baby, increase the risk of injury to the mother, and increase the risk of birth injury and death for the baby. Potential injuries to the mother include infection, excessive bleeding, blood clots, prolonged recovery time, and scarring. Potential birth injuries to the baby include stillbirths, oxygen deprivation, injuries such as brachial plexus injuries, breathing problems, and increased need for intensive care. According to Dr. Mitchell Maiman, “Cesarean should only be resorted to when it’s necessary.”

Obstetricians, despite knowing the risks, have been pushing for more Cesarean sections for several reasons. First, malpractice lawsuits are on the rise related to birth injuries that occur during vaginal births, and doctors, out of fear of malpractice suits, prefer Cesarean sections. Second, Cesareans are relatively fast when compared to vaginal births. During vaginal births, obstetricians must stay with the mother for hours during delivery, and often times, due to complications, an emergency Cesarean is ordered anyway. Many malpractice suits originate from these complications and a failure of the doctor to order a Cesarean sooner. Many doctors try to bypass the long ordeal of a vaginal delivery and the need for an emergency Cesarean by ordering a Cesarean from the start.

According to Dr. Maiman, "After decades of climbing, there seems to be a hold to it. But we could do a lot better." However, some states have seen dramatic declines. While the national average in 2012 was a 2% decline, Delaware, New York, North Dakota, and Oregon saw decreases in Cesareans ranging from 5% to 10%. Utah’s Cesarean rates fell by an astonishing 15%.

In addition, the closer the baby was to full term, the more dramatically Cesarean rates dropped. For instance, babies born at 38 weeks saw the biggest drop in Cesarean rates.

Health advocates hope that putting financial pressure on hospitals regarding Cesareans, as well as changing medical malpractice laws, could lead to an even further reduction in Cesarean rates.

If you or a loved one suffered a traumatic birth injury, either due to oxygen deprivation or other birth complication, please do not hesitate to contact Levin & Perconti to discuss your options.

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November 29, 2013

New Tool Invented to Extract Child in Complex Births

Many cases of permanent harm to children as a result of traumatic births are traced back to excessive force applied during the delivery. When a child is born vaginally, problems may arise, making it difficult for the child to naturally exit from the mother’s birthing canal. At times, doctors use outside tools to help spur the delivery, including the two most well-known: forceps and vacuum extractors. These tools can prove critical during a traumatic birth, but, when used incorrectly, these devices may cause a serious birth injury.

History of Birthing Devices
A fascinating recent article at News International explored the history of birthing devices. Forceps and similar crude objects are the oldest, having been in use for hundreds of years--invented in the 1600s. Essentially, instead of relying only on hands to pull, forceps allow for greater flexibility and force to reach inside the womb.

Vacuum extractors are far more recent. Rough versions were tested in the mid 19th century, but it was not until a hundred years later, in the 1950s, that the modern versions were developed and employed. These tools rely on the basic idea of suction to facilitate birth. They work by placing a cup or pump on the baby’s head and using a vacuum process to pull outward.

Both devices, however, are not without their problems. Because they involve invasive use of a metal objects, forceps can result in severe injury to a mother, include cuts and tears which among other things can result in anal incontinence. Vacuum extractors can lead to scalp and skull injuries for the child. The relative fragility of the child’s head make these injuries substantial and long-lasting.

The Latest: Odon Device
As discussed in the article, there is a new option in the vaginal delivery support toolkit. Known as the “Odon Device,” the new product uses a plastic bag and lubricated plastic sleeve. The sleeve is placed over the child’s head in the womb and inflated so that the sleeve grips snuggly to the baby. The bag is then pulled to help extract the child.

The device is making headlines across the globe for its relative simplicity, low-cost, and claims about its safety. For example, the World Health Organization touted the tool recently, noting that it won an award known as “Saving Lives at Birth: A Grand Challenge for Development.” It is claimed that the tool is safer than forceps and vacuum extractions. In addition, in poorer areas where access to surgical equipment is scarce, Cesarean section deliveries may not be an option. Instead, use of the Odon Device may fill the void, providing a cheap but far more effective way to help in problematic births. it is not a stretch to suggest that thousands of lives might be saved by the product.

The WHO story on the Odon Device explained that “by reducing contacts between the baby’s head and the birth channel, the device could prevent infections acquired during delivery. The device has potential for wide application in resource poor settings even by mid-level providers.”

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November 13, 2013

Cerebral Palsy & The Affordable Care Act

We can expect the debate regarding “Obamacare” to rage for many months (likely years) ahead. The technological trouble with the program’s roll out has offered an opportunity for those opposed to the substance of the legislation to re-iterate their attack and voice concern about the consequences of the law. Considering that it is such a politically volatile issue, the Act will undoubtedly be dredged up in next year’s Congressional elections as well as the 2016 election to replace President Obama.

As a result, it is important to pay close attention to the arguments made to separate fact from fiction.

Many claims are made about how the law will impact medical care for birth-related issues and injuries. Take, for example, claims about how the law will affect families with children who suffered birth injuries--like cerebral palsy.

The Facts
One of the leading opponents of the law, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, recently claimed that “families of special needs children will face a new penalty for using savings” to provide medical care to their injured child. Is this true?

According to a story in the Huffington Post which fact-checked Cruz’s statement, the Senator’s comments are misleading. Cruz’s claim stems from a component of the new law which caps tax-free contributions to accounts which can only be used specifically for medical care. The cap is at $2,500. More money can be added to those accounts, but they will now be taxed like regular income. Some families that have children with special needs use these accounts to pay for various expenses for their child.

For one thing, one of the nation’s leading advocacy groups for these children issues a statement stating that they have not seen any evidence that Obamacare’s change in this tax rule would have any meaningful impact on families.

In addition, those making statements like Senator Cruz almost always ignore the components of the healthcare law that may drastically improve care for pregnant mothers or children who suffer a birth injury. For example, officials from the March of Dimes--a leading organization for children with disabilities--have stated their hope that the Affordable Care Act may lead to healthier babies.

The hope is that the overall expansion of available healthcare services will spur more women to have appropriate prenatal care. This is accomplished, in part, by provisions in the new law which do not allow health insurance rates to be denied by considering pregnancy as “preexisting condition.”

Advocates will be watching premature birth rates as the healthcare law is rolled out to see if that indicator drops--a sign of increased prenatal care. Fewer premature births will undoubtedly lead to children born with fewer injuries.

Another organization known as United Cerebral Palsy issued a statement on Obamacare, pointing out the many provisions of the law which may improve the care provided to children with cerebral palsy. On top of the preexisting condition issue already mentioned, this include eliminating lifetime “caps” on insurance coverage, expanded Medicaid eligibility, and more.

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October 28, 2013

Injuries to Mom and Baby Due to Improper Epidural Administration

It’s no secret that childbirth is one of the most painful experiences of a person’s life. With all of the advances in modern medicine, controlling pain seems to still be problematic. A highly popular pain management technique during childbirth is the epidural. For many women, receiving an epidural a given. However, slight mistakes on the part of doctors and nurses can cause severe injuries to mom and baby. What roles do healthcare providers play in these injuries?

What is an epidural?

An epidural is a method of pain relief during labor made from a mixture of local aesthetics and often narcotics or opioids. Further, the epidural often includes medication to prolong the effects of the drugs and stabilize the mother’s blood pressure. The goal of the epidural is to temporarily deaden the nerves in the uterus and cervix that carry pain signals to the brain during childbirth. This provides pain relief but does not provide a total lack of feeling. There are two common types of epidurals, the regular epidural and the combined spinal-epidural. These are administered in the same way.

How are they administered?

In the US, a nurse-anesthetist or an obstetrician can administer the epidural. However, in the UK, only a licensed anesthetist may administer an epidural - likely due to the very delicate nature of the administration. There can be disastrous consequences for even minor mistakes.

In order to administer the epidural, the woman in labor must lie on her side or sit up with her back arched. After thoroughly sanitizing the area below the waist on the back, the administering nurse or doctor then numbs a small portion of the lower back where the epidural is to be administered. After the area is numbed, the nurse or doctor sticks a large hollow needle into epidural space, the space between the small bones in your spine and between the layers of tissues in the spinal column. After the needle is inserted, the nurse or doctor will insert a small catheter tube through the needle and remove the needle. The tube is taped up the woman’s back and the drugs are administered through it.

The administration process is painful and requires a woman who is already in labor to remain completely still.

What are the effects of mistakes?
As you can see, given the delicacy and precision required to successfully administer the epidural and the location of the epidural, severe injuries can result from slight mistakes on the part of the administering doctor or nurse. These mistakes can cause injuries to the mother such as:

· difficulty breathing;
· nerve damage;
· severe headaches from leaking spinal fluid and other complications;
· cardiac arrest;
· seizures; and,
· wrongful death.

Clearly any injury that occurs to the mother during labor and birth can injure the baby. Possible injury to the baby includes, but is not limited to:

· coma;
· stroke;
· brain injury; and,
· wrongful death.

In addition to injuries do to errors in administering the epidural, there are many common side effects that the doctor may not properly emphasize prior to administration of the epidural.

Who is to blame when something goes wrong?
Women must decide carefully when choosing whether to use an epidural to manage pain during childbirth. The healthcare professionals are in the best position to fully warn patients about the risks, complications and danger of epidurals. Healthcare professionals are responsible for the correct and accurate administration and regulation of epidurals. If you or your child has suffered one of the complications above, please consult our Chicago birth injury lawyers.

See Related Blog Posts:

Mother files wrongful death lawsuit over preventable pregnancy complication

September 17, 2013

Advocate Calls for Hospital Births -- Raises Awareness of Childbirth Deaths

Opinions about the safety of so-called ‘home births” range across a wide spectrum. Some are avid proponents of mothers giving birth at their own home, while others argue that births anywhere other than a hospital simply open up mother and child to more risks.

A recent post from Slate on the subject of birthing safety has struck a chord with some across the blogosphere.

The Slate story points to the startling medical advances related to childbirth, eventually vastly improving safety for procedures that have ended countless lives over the centuries. It is commonly understood that, historically, childbirth was the leading cause of death for all adult women. The same grim statistic persists in less developed areas of the world where pregnant women to not have access to modern medicine.

Yet, many fail to appreciate that the dangers are still quite common, even for women in the United States today. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) childbirth injuries rank as the 6th most common cause of death for women in prime child-giving age (20 to 34 years old).

Why are these rates still so high? Mostly because factors in human evolution amount to a series of tradeoffs between gestation time, brain development, and metabolic rates (the amount of energy required to support a child in the womb). Pregnancy and childbirth remain a very delicate process, requiring expert medical support to deal with potential complications.

Midwives vs. Doctors
Interestingly, for centuries doctors and midwives have “competed” for primacy in childbirths. In the very distant past, only female midwives were deemed appropriate to be near a birth. However, doctors became more prominent in the 17th through 19th centuries, often winning business by claiming to have new and effective treatments to prevent injury. Sometimes those “treatments” caused more harm than good.

Things finally changed in the 1930s and 1940s when obstetrical standards steadily improved. There was a renewed commitment to safety, and lessons were learned from past problems. The advent of highly effective antibiotics similarly helped quell maternal injury and death caused by bacterial infection post birth.

For the author of the Slate article, the tide has turned sufficiently in the favor of traditional hospital births, with doctors offering the safest support for expectant mothers. She succinctly summarizes her position by pointing to the horrific death rates in the past and remarking that “I’m personally opposed to letting nature take its course--nature will kill you.”

Not to be too one-sided, the author does confess that the available data does not show a clear connection between increased risk of injury or death for home births, but only in cases where the home birth was well planned and involved a mother with low-injury risk. Those mothers with known complication risks are still well-advised to ensure they give birth in a hospital or medical birthing center.

At the end of the day, every family will make their own choice about what setting is best for them. But in all cases, they do have general legal rights; reasonable standards must always be met. When those standards are violated and a birth injury arises, then legal recourse is available.

See Other Blog Posts:

New Research Aimed At Improving Speech for Children with Cerebral Palsy

The Links Between Infant’s Heart & Brain

August 7, 2013

The Link Between the Infant’s Heart and Brain

The human body obviously still has a lot of growing to do even after it leaves the mother’s womb. Evolutionary biologists have long-explained how this is actually one of the key trademarks of the human species. Unlike most species, human infants are incredibly vulnerable for months after being born, requiring around-the-clock care. It takes years for human children to be able to live on their own, unlike others in the animal kingdom who are born mostly intact. Ultimately, this is what allows humans to develop such complex systems--their growth continues for a long time.

But none of that should undermine the critical nature of proper development in the womb.

More and more doctors are learning about the connection between how one develops as a fetus and the effect on growth and development in later years. For example, a study published last month in Neurology took a look at the connection between heart defects in infants and their later brain development.

Organ-Growth Intertwined
While birth defects obviously have an impact on later development, it was not necessarily clear if a defect in one area, like the heart, would affect growth in others, like the brain. But the complexity and connectivity of very different parts of the body seem to be clear. Essentially, this study identified how children with congenital heart defects have far higher rates of brain injury and brain development problems. The research, for the first time, established the correlation between the two. Importantly, we do not yet understand the causation element, or exactly why/how the heart problems affect brain growth.

The study itself involved MRI scans of 120 newborns with heart defects. Those scans were conducted before and after those infants had surgery to correct their heart problems. The results showed that there were clear pre-surgery brain injury problems. But the problems seemed to evaporate following surgery.

This is obviously good news, as it reinforces the value of proper surgical care. Ultimately, however, scientists hope to learn more about this connection in hopes of preventing the problem and fixing it before surgery is even needed. One researcher explained, “The ultimate step will be to develop strategies to promote optimal brain development in utero. This includes ways to help the brain mature while still in the uterus, as well as ensuring optimal brain blood flow after birth. MRI now gives us a window on the developing brain in babies with heart defects,”

One neurologist explained that the findings in this study are particularly significant, because heart problems are some of the most common defects in infants, affecting upwards of one out of every one hundred newborns each year.

Overall, this latest research project is even more validation of the already-known fact that development in the womb and what happens during childbirth itself can impact virtually every facet of one’s life and growth. As if more reason was needed, it reinforces the demand that all those involved with medical care in birth do everything they can to minimize complications and prevent harm.

See Other Blog Posts:

Royal Birth & Lessons About Cost of Medical Care in U.S.

Infants at Risk of Preventable Infection in NICU

May 29, 2013

Toddler Dies Following Injury During Birth with Midwife

My Fox published a story earlier this month on a sad case of a young child who suffered a serious injury as a result of a traumatic birth. Many called it a miracle that the baby survived his first night out of the womb. However, he was plagued by the consequences of the injury throughout his short life, and he recently passed away at the age of three. It is an incredibly sad story that some are using to raise concerns about the safety of certain birthing methods and the potential need for clearer regulations for midwives.

Failure to Act Quickly
According to the report, the family involved made the decision to hire a midwife to help with a home birth. This is a decision that many families make, and successful home births with midwife aid is common throughout Illinois. But there was little successful about this particular birth. The mother began labor in mid-may of 2010. Eventually there were clear signs that something was amiss. Most notably, the mother began bleeding “profusely” -- an obvious indicator of serious problems.

Yet, instead of taking the abnormal bleeding as a sign that emergency medical help was needed, the midwife did not call an ambulance. It turns out that the mother suffered a placental abruption, which is a birth complication that refers to the placenta peeling away from the uterine wall. This can be a complete peeling away or a partial peeling away, however, in both situations there is risk of serious injury to the mother and baby.

That is what happened in this case. The story notes how the abruption, indicated by the severe bleeding, ultimately caused the newborn to suffer a traumatic brain injury. At first, the family did not know if the baby would survive, and the harm to the mother was also unclear. Amazingly the young boy and mother survived.

Of course, the TBI still caused significant problems, and throughout his life the boy was unable to do much of anything on his own, including walk, speak, or even crawl. Yet, as so many families with children who suffered similar injuries can attest, the boy soon became a centerpiece of the family’s life for his ability to “light up a room with his infectious smile and twinkling eyes.”

Sadly, the boy passed away recently at age three. In the aftermath of the tragic loss the family is hoping that their sadness will lead to changes to improve the safety of midwife births for others. Specifically, they are urging stricter requirements before one is allowed to aid in a birth related to education, training and insurance.

There remain a wide range of opinions of the appropriate balance for regulatory midwife policy. But the important thing for all Illinois families to remember is that if you are harmed by potential errors, delays, omissions, or outright harmful conduct by anyone (doctors, nurses, midwives, doulas) involved in your childbirth, you may have legal rights to recover for your injuries. The recovery can ensure your child has access to an extra support they need to aid in their development. An attorney can explain your options

See Other Blog Posts:

Concerns About Stem Cell Treatments for Cerebral Palsy

Doctor Recognized for Work with Children with Cerebral Palsy

March 8, 2013

The Value of Childbirth Education Classes

Everyone wants to have the process from pregnancy to the delivery to go without a hitch. Obviously the goal is always for a happy, healthy child to be born in as seamless a way as possible without harm to mother or child. Unfortunately, there are many examples where things go wrong. From genetic issues that develop during conception and accidents during development to trauma during the birth itself, many things can go astray with consequences for all involved.

More and more information is coming out, however, of steps that mothers can take to minimize the risk of a preventable accident striking. One of those steps is education classes. Recently the Seattle PI published a story geared toward mothers that provided various why childbirth classes are “worth your time.”

The Value of the Classes
The blog post tried to explain why mothers should not forget the value of traditional, in-person education classes. The author argues that online options--articles, video clips, and other educational alternatives--might not completely offer the same value as the classic education class. While the shortcuts may be tempting, particularly for those with already packed schedules, it may be worth the effort of squeezing in a regular class.

For example, the story notes that one overlooked benefit is how the classes provide both parents a chance to block away time to discuss the process together. More than just a time for mothers to learn about what to expect, it is a guaranteed time for couples to bond.

Importantly, taking a traditional class also guarantees the the information that one receives is accurate and up to date. While the internet is obviously a bastion of endless resources, it often can be overwhelming. New things are learned and best practices change from year to year (or even month to month). Searching for information online may be a road to following outdated information. By attending a class with a trained teacher who is able to answer all questions immediately, mothers can be confident that they aren’t getting second-hand, skewed, or obsolete knowledge.

Traditional classes also provide a layer of accountability. Just as many gym-goers find that a personal trainer ensures that they have a good workout (even though they can exercise on their own), signing up for a traditional childbirth class is a way to ensure one does not push off need for education by delayed at-home research.

Hoping for a Healthy Birth
Education classes are obviously only one piece of a large chain of events from conception to a birth. The injury attorneys at our firm urge all local mothers to do their best to ensure that their little one has the best chance to enter the world without harm. Yet, there is only so much that any family can do. Sometimes developmental problems exist anyway. And at other times a traumatic birth is not handled properly by medical care providers, leading to injury. In the latter case, a birth injury lawsuit may be appropriate to ensure accountability and access to resources to provide resource to account for the injury. Consider contacting our office for more advice on these matters.

See Other Blog Posts:

Human Evolution & Childbirth Risks

Helping Those with Cerebral Palsy Learn to Speak

February 15, 2013

New Study Might Change Public Support Options for Expectant Mothers

It has long been known that the health of the mother during a pregnancy can affect the development of the child and it’s ultimate well-being after birth. After all, careful analysis of eating habits, ordered bed rest, and other common treatments for mothers during pregnancy are all geared toward ensuring her safety and as well as that of the new life growing inside of her. New research is now finding that even more wide-ranging support to mothers during pregnancy may have very strong effects on the health of the child. The data may eventually change the way public support is provided to these women in order to improve health and save costs down the road.

The Benefits Comprehensive Prenatal Care
The latest research effort was summarized in a KSTP News story this week. Researchers examined the effect that increased physical, emotional, and educational support had on childbirth. In this way, the research took a look at the possible benefits of more wide-ranging support--not just bodily treatments (i.e. watching one’s diet). In total, the study suggests that this comprehensive support for mothers may go a long way to ensuring healthier babies are born and less medical care (and cost) is needed down the road.

Specifically, the university researchers measured the benefit of using “doulas” during pregnancy for low-income families. A doula is essentially a trained individual who acts as a support and educational companion for the mother during the pregnancy. A doula is not one who takes the place of a medical doctor, but instead compliments medical services by offering a range of help for mothers during their pregnancies. According to this new research, the support that these individuals provide may go a long way to improving the lives of both mother and child.

One of the lead researchers on the project from the university’s school of public health explained, “Birth advocates are fond of saying, 'Every woman deserves a doula,' and our research shows that that's probably true."

From a financial perspective, the researchers found that state support for pregnancies--for mothers using public healthcare services--can be cut by use of doulas as a result of the positive outcomes. Most notably, the study found that low-income mothers who were provided the support of a doula had a 40% lower chance of needed a Cesarean section. C-section births are notoriously more expensive (and come with higher risk of complications). Therefore, the impact of lowering C-section rates alone may be enough to justify the costs of provide extra support before a birth to expectant mothers.

Our Chicago injury attorneys appreciate that If these findings are verified elsewhere or implemented in policy changes, Medicaid program rules might be changed to expand coverage for support services like a doula. Right now billions of dollars are spent nationwide on paying for the extra costs of C-section deliveries and the resulting increase in birth injuries. If that number can be cut significantly, then it would be financially prudent to direct Medicaid resources to cover aides like doulas.

See Other Blog Posts:

Helping Those with Cerebral Palsy Learn to Speak

Legal Liability & Maternal Injuries

January 21, 2013

Bachelor Contestant Raises Awareness of In Utero Injuries

Social media chatter has been abuzz the last few weeks over a new contestant in the reality TV romance shown known as The Bachelor. One of the contestants on the latest season is a woman who was born with only one full arm as a result of a birth injury. These television shows are not exactly known for their ability to spark useful national conversations. However, in this case, the contestant has worked hard to ensure her newfound celebrity is used to share important information about the risks of injury to developing children.

In Utero Injuries
The 25-year old contestant, Sarah Herron, has thus far survived the first two rounds of the contest. As explained in a new VOXXI article, Herron’s injury developed in utero and was caused by amniotic band syndrome. This is a quite rare condition, which is caused when the fetus becomes tangled in strands of the amniotic sac. This situation influences the development of the fetus. The strands can constrict the growth depending on where they are located on the fetus. In many cases it results in a limb amputation. In Herron’s case it occurred in her left arm at the elbow.

In sharing information about her condition, Herron points out there are are many other in utero injuries. For one thing, many in utero injuries are caused by what the mother ingested when she was pregnant. Sadly, one major problem remains the ingestion of illicit substances--too much alcohol or drugs ingested by the mother can obviously cause serious harm to the development of the child. In other cases chemical exposures by the mother may act in the same way.

On top of that, in utero injuries may be caused by physical trauma to the mother. For example, many mothers-to-be who are involved in car accidents may suffer force on the body that causes problems for the fetus. The development of infections may also lead to injuries in a developing child.

All of these situations--and many others that occur during the birth itself--can cause physical injuries (as in Herron’s case) as well as mental difficulties. Beyond physical limitations things like cerebral palsy may develop if an injury affect’s the brain’s development or deprives oxygen to the brain

Public Perception
Herron is also trying to send a message that being born with certain injuries, like hers, does not automatically mean that society should view her as “disabled.” She put it succinctly, “Having one arm does not define who I am.”

Our birth injury attorneys are glad that more public figures with various birth injuries are able to share their stories and raise awareness of these conditions. Sometimes these injuries are not preventable (or hard to prevent), like the condition that affected Herron. However, in other cases the injury could have been prevented with better prenatal care or proper treatment to emergencies during the birth itself.

If you or a loved one ever experiences a birth injury which may have been preventable, it is important to remember that the law may allow you to receive compensation. In our area a Chicago birth injury attorney can listen to your story and explain what can be done under the law to ensure full accountability.

See Other Blog Posts:

Cerebral Palsy Diagnosis Turned Out To Be Wrong

Legal Liability & Maternal Injuries

January 15, 2013

Legal Liability & Maternal Injuries

Obviously much more work still needs to be done before children are born without preventable injuries that affect their lives. But in recent months more and more attention has been paid to injuries suffered by mothers during childbirth. There is a somewhat mistaken assumption that the risks of mothers suffering serious injury or even death in childbirth is non-existent in the Western world. That could not be further from the truth as many families have discovered first-hand the heartbreak associated with maternal injuries during or after the birth of their child.

Recently, Health News Digest published a story that touched on these issues and the fact that improvement is needed in the area of maternal healthcare. The story is written from the perspective of medical providers, but the arguments made about liability in these cases mirrors that made by legal professionals working on these cases.

New Study
Essentially the story trumpets a new study which took a look at liability issues as they relate to maternal care. In other words it includes information on when lawsuits are filed and for what sort of misconduct on the part of medical professionals that harms mothers. The research project was issued by a group known as Childbirth Connection and entitled Maternity Care and Liability: Pressing Problems, Substantive Solutions.

Interestingly, even though the story is written from the perspective of medical providers, the arguments advanced are similar to those shared by our birth injury attorneys. For example, the study found that liability premiums are a relatively small component of practice expenses. This flies in the face of arguments made by certain groups which suggest that there is some mass financial problem caused by doctors being held liable following these errors. Similarly, defensive medicine was not found to be a problem. Tort reform proponents often claim that lawsuits run amok lead to costly defensive medicine. Besides misplacing the problem on injury victims, as this report argues, it is not even an accurate reflection of the practical care provided.

In addition, the study took a look at tort reform efforts that have passed to gauge their effect on medical care and liability. They found that the reform efforts have little impact on improving maternal care. In addition, the report admitted that the significant majority of claims are caused by actual substandard care. Assumptions about widespread frivolous lawsuits are now not even defended by serious industry groups.

The report goes on to explain how serious studies have found that only 2% of patients injured during childbirth ever file a legal claim. In other words, there are many more harmed patients than there are lawsuits. In explaining the reality, one study author explained, “We found that in the practice of an average obstetrician-gynecologist, negligent injury of mothers and newborns appears to occur more frequently than any claim and far more frequently than any payout or trial."

Our Chicago birth injury lawyers hope industry professionals take these issues to heart, and focus on improving maternal care. In addition, we urge all mothers who may have been harmed during birth to contact our legal professional for guidance on how the law applies in these cases.

See Other Blog Posts:

Defending the Justice Rights of Those Harmed By Preventable Errors

Birth Injury Case at Center of U.S. Supreme Court Deliberations

December 18, 2012

WSJ On Steep Rise in Maternal Birth Complications in the U.S.

When we think about the quality of medical care in the United States today, there is a tendency to automatically assume it is moving in a linear direction. As with everything else, we assume quality of care progresses without interruption year after year. Patients are safer today than they were last year and were safer last year than the year before that--or so we think.

While more and more medical advances have undoubtedly built up over the years, it is a mistake to automatically assume that patient safety has similarly improved significantly. In other words, medical professionals have more treatment options than ever before, but that doesn’t mean that medical patients are less likely to fall victim to a medical error than ever before. That is true in many medical settings, including childbirth.

For example, the Wall Street Journal published a story this week on the alarming rise of maternal complications during childbirth. According to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the previous decade there was a sharp increase in the rate of severe complications for mothers during and after the delivery of a child. Those complications include respiratory problems, kidney failure, and cardiac arrest. In some cases those problems were 75% more common in the last decade compared with the previous one.

The article explains how of the roughly 4 million annual births, 52,000 result in severe maternal complications which are life-threatening.

Causes & Solutions
One of the main reasons for the significant increase in severe complications is the increasing pregnancies which are deemed “high risk.” These include mothers who may be older or obese. Also, more woman with chronic health problems like kidney disease and diabetes are giving birth now compared to the past.

But high-risk pregnancies are not the only thing that leads to life-threatening complications during childbirth. In fact, the most common severe maternal birth problem is hemorrhaging--severe bleeding--which affects even the healthiest of mothers.

It is important that more focused be placed on these maternal risks, as they often receive less attention that birth injuries affecting the actual babies. Historically childbirth has always been one of the most common ways that women were killed or injured. In some parts of the world the maternal death rates remain incredibly high. While many strides have been made over the decades in many places, it is a mistake to forget about the risks that remain, even in the most developed countries.

Considering the dangers, it remains incredibly important for medical professionals to be prepared and to act appropriately when signs of problems develop. A professional interview for the WSJ story explained that, “Regardless of age or health, when things go wrong they can go south very fast, and you need a well-oiled team trained to respond in times of crisis."

If you or a loved one may not have received reasonable medical care during childbirth leading to harm to the mother or child, please get in touch with the lawyers at our firm. We have extensive experience with these and are available to help.

See Our Related Post:

Childbirth Costs: Then and Now

Therapy to Avoid Unnecessary C-Sections?

November 15, 2012

Reality Check: The Childbirth Plight in Sierra Leone

The childbirth injury rate in the United States is far higher than some might suspect. In particular, the mortality rate for mothers in our country is higher than most other developed nations. Some attribute this to lack of prenatal care as well as an increase in the number of "risky" births that are attempted here as opposed to elsewhere. This includes birth to mothers who are older or have serious medical conditions. In addition, more births are attempted for children who have known problems or are born prematurely. All of this may skew the statistics. However, even for our difficulties and the need to improve on this front, the reality is that the risk of injury to mother or child in the U.S. is nowhere near as strong as in some of the less developed places in the world.

For example, a recent Huffington Post article delved into the tragic plight in Sierra Leone--the riskiest place for mothers in childbirth. The story notes how, unbelievably, one in eight women in the country die during childbirth. This is the highest such rate in the world. The author notes that one of the main problems invovles lack of access to acute care in the aftermath of serious birthing complications. Most of us in the developed world, with stocked birthing rooms, highly trained professionals, and immediate access to care, forget that hundreds of millions do not have these things.

Helping with Childbirth Injuries Abroad
The article also took some time out to identify those who are working tirelessly to help. For exampe, one retired doctor, was spending almost all of his time (and financial savings) performing hundreds of emergency surgeries for women who suffer complications during childbirth. The doctor focuses on an injury known as a "fistula." This affects many mothers across the world, and refers to a situation where there is a tear in the vaginal canal. When not corrected, the tear can lead to a wide range of very serious, even life-threatening predicaments. In the United States, mothers who suffer a fistula usually have the problem corrected right away (unless an error is made). However, for those in the poorest countries, that immediate medical help is not available.

The goal of activits, volunteers, and medical professionals in the area is to change that. The story author noted, however, that one of the main challenges is fundraising. Many of these medical professionals have to spend considerable time raising money to fund the operations and less time performing the actual good work. That is why much recent effort has been focus on securing outside fundraising efforts that can filter to those doing the real, on-the-ground good works to help those in need. Without the burden of focusing on the ancillary task of fundraising, the hope is that these volunteer medical groups can focus on scaling their operations to help as many women as possible.

Pursuing access to reasonable medical care is a mission all of us can get behind. For those interested in learning more about the struggles in Sierra Leone and the work being done to help, please take a look at the website for Samahope, a new non-profit dedicated to helping these women who otherwise would face these challenges alone.

See Our Related Blog Posts:
Brachial Plexus Awareness Month

Risks from Vaginal Births Rarely Discussed

October 30, 2012

Birth Complications Rising in the U.S.?

A troubling news story published in the Chicago Tribune last week suggested that, despite advances in medicine and slowly increasing knowledge of the way to prevent injury to children during their delivery, birth complications are actually on the rise. The story is a clear reminder of the need for all of us to remain cognizant of all risks faced by mothers and new children during pregnancy, delivery, and in the early stages of development.

The centerpiece of the article was a new U.S. government study which found that, while still rare, there was an increase in recent years of severe complications during birth. The research effort was published in a recent edition of the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology. For purposes of this research the "complications" referred to in this effort include things like strokes, severe bleeding, and heart attacks. The information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest that in recent years there were about 129 such complications per 10,000 live births in the U.S. That rate marks a significant 75% increase from just a decade ago. On top of that, post-delivery complications also saw increases--jumping 112% from the previous decade up to 29 complications per 10,000 births.

Clearly the generic assumption that medical outcomes automatically get better year after year is not true.

So what could be the cause of these somewhat surprising findings?

Researchers quoted in the article note that the problem may be rooted in who is having children now as opposed to in the past. In particular, more women at risk of developing these complications may be giving birth now whereas in the past they did not have children. In particuar, mothers who are obese, have high blood pressure, or diabetes may be giving bith now. Similarly, more older mothers may now be having children later in their life as well. It is well known that the older a women giving birth above a certain age, the more likely they are to have a wide range of problems during the pregnancy and delivery.

Coupled with this research on the overall risk of birth complications, was another research effort from the CDC. That separate study found that minority women might face the highest risk of complications. Those women accounted for 62% of all pregnancy-related deaths, but they are only 41% of the population. In the past, some medical experts have argued that this disprecency might be related to the prenatal-care difference on the whole between different groups of mothers. The healthier that the mother is throughout the pregnancy, the better chance of a safe delivery.
However, if a mother has health issues before and during the pregnancy, and those issues are not addressed before the birth, then the risk of harm to the mother increases. This is why there are many efforts underway to ensure that certain populations which might shun medical care during pregnancy (often out of monetary concerns) actually recieve the pre-natal help they need to ensure their well-being.

Some birth inuries and medical complicatons are not preventable, but many others are preventable. It is critical to follow all doctors advice closely to ensure you best position yourself for a safe delivery. However, if you suspect that a complication was caused by medical negligence or mistakes, please get in touch with out team of injury lawyers to see how we can help.

See Our Related Blog Posts:
Mother's Mental Health & Risk of Birth Complications

New Illinois Birth Injury Lawsuit Filed

October 23, 2012

Mother's Mental Health & Risk of Birth Complications

An interesting extended interview in the Huffington Post this week talks about an issue that is likely important to mothers across the country: How does mental health affect childbirth? In our work with families whose children have suffered significant injury as a result of mistakes during delivery, most our of focus is naturally on the standards of care that doctors and other medical professionals are required to exhibit during the process. The laws hinge on those issues, and so understanding those dynamics is critical to evaluating birth injury lawsuits.

Yet, we appreciate that many different factors play a role in these situations as well. All comprehensive investigations into birth injuries, complications, and the long-term health impact of the mother and child must take everything into account--including the often forgotten issues of mental health. The latest article offers a wide-ranging discussion of these issues and it worth a read.

Childbirth & Mood
The author--a documentary filmaker and worldwide birthing safety advocate--discusses how one confusing issue related to birth injuries and complications invovles mental health particularly perinatal mood disorders and postpartum depression. In an interview with a medical doctor, the story reveals that these mood disorders are incredibly common even though they remain somewhat forgotten. The doctor admitted that, "perinatal mood disorders have been named the most common complication associated with childbirth."

The doctor goes on to note that mental health issues are often neglected because there are other more pressing concerns regarding childbirth needs. Understandably, that is particularly true in the developing world, where access to even basic healthcare during childbirth is a struggle. It is reasonable that issues of perinatel mood disorders and postpartum depression are less of a focus in places where getting adequate food and water each day is a struggle. Yet, at the same time, the expert notes that it is a mistake to discount both the short and long-term consequences of these mental health issues of the mother and child. This is true during the pregnancy, chilbirth, and in the early years of the child's development.

The maternal care expert interviewed for the story explained, that her "longtime concern, however, is that we have not widened the [...] conversation to include the mental wellbeing of the mother and her offspring. If a mother isn't thriving psychologically, her baby experiences the ramifications."

Comprehensive Care
Few things are more important to local families that ensuring they are able to have happy and healthy younger generations. This goal is true no matter where one lives, from here in Chicago to the far corners of the world. At the end of the day, the basic principles that make that goal most likely to occur are the same everywhere. Those principles include medical care free of neglect and maternal suppor that takes all issues (including mental health concerns) into account. It is important that local families do everything in their power to ensure they receive comprehensive care.

That includes proper prenatal and postnatal care. Sadly, many pregant women in our community do not receive the care they need during their pregnancy. It is not uncommon for some mothers to have little to no guidance or support during the pregnancy itself. In addition, in some cases, mistakes may even be made during the delivery. When made by medical professionals violating the standard of care, those mistakes might be signs of medical malpractice. In those cases, the affected mothers have legal rights to ensure accountability and redress to help themselves and their children recover from any harm suffered.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Cerebral Palsy Develops After Delayed C-Section

New Illinois Birth Injury Lawsuit Filed

October 18, 2012

New Grant to Fund Investigations in Pelvic Injuries During Birth

The National Institute of Health (NIH) recently issued a rather large grant award to one university to look into issues related to pelvic damage during birth and the long-term complications that might accrue down the road. According to a recent report on the issue, researchers at the University of Michigan received the funds to study "birth-related pelvic floor injuries and their relationship to pelvic floor disorders like urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse." This refers to a common but often little-understood muscle injury that frequently occurs during childbirth.

According to the press release announcing the grant, this latest award is for $5.2 million. This brings the total awarded to the university in grants to understand the pelvic floor injury problem up to $15 million. This latest grant--the third for the research team--was provided by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development of the National Institutes of Health for Specialized Centers of Research (SCOR) on Sex Differences and the Office for Research on Women's Health.

The need for the research and the goals are clear. More than 300,000 women are forced to undergo surgeries each year for pelvic organ prolapse and urinary incontinence as a result of injuries they suffered during childbirth. With better understanding of how those injuries arise and lead to subsequent complications, the idea it to slowly lower the total number of women affected annually. Researchers have long known that vaginal birth vastly increase the risk of pelvic organ prolapse, but the precise link between the birth and the injury are mostly unknown. Of course, with expanded knowledge on the topic medical professionals with hopefully be able to both develop better treatment options for those affected as well as more benficial prevention tools to protect women who give birth vaginally.

It is perhaps surprising that there has not been more discussion of this issue, becase it is quite common and has serious affects on the lives of many mothers. For example, the story shares information about one new mother who experienced severe pelvic discomfort following the birth of her child. At first, never having given birth before, she thought the discomfort was the "new normal"--something she would just have to get used to. But over the years things only got worse. She began having significant urinary leakage. She also had more and more pain in that area. Even laughing, coughing, or performing certian basic exercises caused extreme discomfort. It wasn't until later that she learned that she suffered from pelvic organ prolapse and needed surgery. The underlying problem was an injury that she had suffered during childbirth.

The mother in the above example, like many young mothers, go years without dealing with these issue. This allows the problems to worsen and forces the moms to suffer in silence. That should never happen. As one of the lead researchers on this new project noted: "Since a lot of women do not consistently see a physician for themselves after child bearing, it would be helpful to arm delivering physicians with tools to diagnose and treat the problem since it may be years before a mother will see a doctor again."

Hopefully these research efforts bear fruit and new knowledge can be applied to helping mothers prevent or treat these painful injuries.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

New Illinois Birth Injury Filed

New Study on the Safety of Vaginal Births

October 15, 2012

Cerebral Palsy Develops after Delayed C-Section, Vacuum Extraction, and Pitocin

Cerebral palsy is probably the most well-known injury that is often connected to medical negligence during childbirth. Cerebral palsy itself is quite varied, referring to many different kinds of mobility and cognitive challenges. The causes of CP are similarly varied. Sometimes it arises through the fault of no one. Yet, the fact remains that certain misconduct by medical professionals often causes the harm which affects the child for the rest of their lives.

A few different types of errors are seen time and again in legal cases alleging misconduct causing cerebral palsy. One of those cases which recently settled seems to implicate many of the most common errors at once. According to reports on the incident, the lawsuit was recently settled for $2.3 million. Allegations in the case alleged a delayed C-section, trauma from a vacuum extraction, and the ill-advised use of the labor inducement drug Pitocin. Each of these three concerns are commonly at the root of lawsuits where cerebral palsy developed as a result of medical negligence.

The Med Mal Birth Injury Case
The mother in this case was scheduled to give birth to twins in 2004. In mid-September of that year she went to the hospital to deliver the children. Doctors noted that she was nearly fully dilated at that time. About 45 minutes after arriving the medical staff worked with the woman to push in order to deliver the children. However, she had only been pushing for five to ten minutes before a vacuum extraction device was used on one of the twins head. The device was supposed to help get the child out quickly. However, when not used properly it can cause trauma and long-term harm to the child. All told, medical records indicate that the extraction device was used three times.

Later, about an hour and a half after the mother arrived, heart rate monitors indicated that one child might be experiencing fetal distress. At the same time it was discovered that the twins heads were "interlocking." Together this indicated that the children were "undeliverable." In fact, not long after this was discovered a C-section birth was ordered. However, that emergency surgical birth did not immediately take place. Instead, the labor inducement drug Pitocin was ordered.

It wasn't until nearly an hour after the C-section was ordered (and the drug was given) that the emergency surgical birth actually took place. However, by that time, a significant amount of damage was already done. The reports explain that one twin was born blue and limp. He was apneic and no reflex irritability, muscle tone, or respiratory effort. In other words, the serious medical problems were evident right off the bat. He was subsequently diagnosed as having "quadriplegic CP with left hemiparesis, oral motor deficits, and dysphagia."

During the discovery process following the filing of the birth injury lawsuit, medical experts explained that use of the Pitocin at that time, given the circumstances, was inappropriate. That delayed C-section and inappropriate drug use, they alleged, were the cause of the underlying harm to the child.

These sorts of allegations are unfortunately all too common. Far too many youngsters end up with life-altering injuries which could and should have been prevented if appropriate standards of care were followed at all times during a birth.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

New Illinois Birth Injury Lawsuit Filed

Millions Awarded to Child After Negligence Leads to Cerebral Palsy

October 9, 2012

Birth Injury Complaints Included in More than 100 Med Mal Lawsuits Against Single Hospital

Lawyers, patient right advocates, and others often mention that mistreatment in hospitals commonly occurs in bunches. In other words, the same individual practitioners and institutions often make errors time and again which cause harm to patients which should have been prevented.

This is the key reason why calls for more transparency in the medical industry are rising. It seems natural for patients to be able to learn about the quality of care provided by those who they are relying on. If a specific institution or practitioners have problem after problem in excess of others in the field, than red flags might be raised. Patients might chose to seek other options. The individual might then work to improve care. This is the basic quality premise behind the free-market system.

However, as we have often discussed, there is still a long way to go before we reach that ideal. That is because open, honest, and complete information about quality of care is still woefully lacking. Information is limited and much of it is created only using self-assessments. It does not take much imagination to understand how doctors, nurses, and medical institutions might be reluctant to be completely honest about the lapses of care. The foundation in self-reporting, means that the accountability system is lacking. Many patients, including expectant mothers, continue to visit medical professional with a track record of problems. Unfortunately, on some occasions, those mothers will not receive the care to which they are entitled and they themselves or their children might be harmed.

Birth Injury Example
One examples of this involved a hospital that was the subject of an Injury Lawyer News Update this week The story reports that the facility--not located in Illinois--has more than one hundred medical malpractice lawsuits pending against it. That likely means that on dozens and dozens of occasions, medical patients did not receive the care to which they were entitle, resulting in serious injury--and even death.

Several of those cases, according to the story, involved birth injuries. In those instances a doctor, nurse, or the medical practitioner did not follow proper protocol, resulting in serious injury to the young children. For example, in one case filed against the institution, a family claims that the doctor attending to their birth was negligent, resulting in serious brain damage and nervous system damage to the child.

There are many birthing complications which, if not handled properly, can result in severe injury. These include fetal distress, hypoxia, shoulder dystocia, umbilical cord problems, and more. Negligence usually comes into play when medical professionals either do not timely recognize the problem or do not respond to it effectively. The appropriate response various considerably depending on the situation. However, it often means using emergency actions to get the baby out at soon as possible--perhaps even by ordering a C-section.

If you or someone you know was ever harmed as a result of inadequate care during childbirth in Chicago or throughout Illinois, please get in touch with the lawyers at our firm to see how we can help

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Doctors Explain How Medical Malpractice May Cause Cerebral Palsy

Lawsuit Alleges Cerebral Palsy Caused by Birth Injury

September 25, 2012

New Study on the Safety of Vaginal Births

Disagreement about the superior methods of childbirth rage in many circles, including between mothers deciding what is best in their specific case. This is perhaps most vivid in discussions about births at home or births in the hospitals. Some prefer a natural birth in a non-medical setting, while others argue that hospitals are the only setting for these situations.

It is sometimes confusing to understand how these decisions play into potential medical malpractice or negligence cases in the event that problems develop. At the end of the day, the law is flexible in that compensation may be demanded in all cases where basic standards of care are not followed. Reasonable protocols exist in all setting--from hospitals to home births--and those involved are required to follow those standards.

In other words, no one can say for certain what is the best option for each individual family. But is is still important to understand possible risks of each option. Every day more information is released as researchers learn more about how certain childbirth options affect mothers and children. For example, just this week Medical Express published a story on study on the safety of vaginal birth in pre-term infants.

New Research on Vaginal Births for Significantly Premature Infants
The research comes from the National Institute of Health (NIH) related to comparison of outcomes for vaginal birth and cesarean section births for premature babies.

The story explains how pregnancy typically last 40 weeks. Those born three weeks early (before the 37th week) are officially deemed “pre-term.” Early pre-term refers to those born two months early (before the 32nd week). It is well-known that all pre-term infants face an increased risk of serious complications, like developing cerebral palsy, infant death, developmental delays, or sensory issues.

Early pre-term infants face significantly higher risks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that while only 2% of infants are born this early, the small group accounts for over 54% of all infant deaths. Considering the high number of infants born this early who do not survive, it is critical to understand any specific steps that might increase the risk of survival. For one thing, do infants born this early fare better after a vaginal delivery or surgical delivery (C-section)?

That was the focus of the NIH study.

In the past, some suggested that C-section deliveries increased long-term survival rates. Tangentially, those born via planned surgical delivery were said to suffer fewer long-term injury and health effects because they were spared the trauma of going through the birth canal. However, C-sections are known to pose risks of their own, including potential maternal hemorrhage and bladder injuries.

The take-away from this latest study may be that surgical and vaginal birth in these sections are a draw. The researchers examined about 3,000 births of pre-term infants, comparing those who delivered vaginally and those who underwent a planned C-section. They found that survival rates for the infants were about the same in both cases. Importantly, this refers only to babies born head-first. Breech position birth (feet first) wre found to increase problems during vaginal delivery, as they likely present unique complications which would more likely require a C-section.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Birth Injury Case Spurs Questions About Med Mal Jury Instructions

Unwanted Intrusion with Forceps Leads to Birth Injury Lawsuit

September 20, 2012

Actress Tori Spelling Suffers Birth Injury--Example of C-section Risks

Childbirth comes with inherent risks--it is a major trauma on the body for the mother and a delicate process for the new child. Yet, because it occurs so frequently and is a natural part of the human experience, those inherent risks are often downplayed. Usually it is only after a tragedy that community attention is yet again reminded of the need to be incredibly vigilant about all aspects of this process.

The recent hospitalization of actress Tori Spelling is also a reminder of the dangers of the process. Spelling gave birth to her fourth child three weeks ago. The baby was born via C-section on August 30th. Uniquely, this was Spelling’s second child in one year. She gave birth to her third baby in October of last year. That prior birth was also via C-section. That means Spelling had two C-sections within eleven months of each other.

However, this week the mother suffered some problems. She apparently needed emergency surgery due to complications from the most recent C-section birth. The representative for Spelling did not provide many more details about what might have gone wrong.

Dangers of Multiple C-Sections
Those familiar with childbirth risks note that multiple C-sections often come with inherent risks. For example, one doctor noted in a Fox News story on the situation that “if there are short intervals in between, it can make the healing process more difficult.” The doctor went on to note that some of the most common reasons requiring emergency surgery after a Cesarean section include a bowel obstruction, bladder damage, vaginal bleeding, or an infectious abscess needing to be drained.

However, the medical professional also noted that there is a chance (though less likely) that the doctors left some instrument inside the mother’s body. Unfortunately, potential medical mistakes are always at play.

The long-term consequences following these cases run the gamut, but no surgery is without risk. Also, it is not uncommon for a mother to lose her uterus following more advanced problems after a C-section.

All of these issues regarding C-section complications have been hotly debated in the medical community. Surgical births always come with more complications, but they are absolutely critical in some situations to prevent harm in problematic vaginal births. In addition, there is disagreement about whether it is ever prudent to have a vaginal birth after a C-section (VBAC). In the past these procedures were deemed too risky, but some argue that, in the right circumstances they might be appropriate.

None of this is to say that having more than one C-section is never a reasonable action. However, it does mean that special precautions must be taken at all times when these particular risks are at play. Medical professionals must act prudently to account for the potential complications. They may not be able to prevent all harm. But when complications arise and a medical professional did not do everything reasonable to minimize the dangers, then it might be prudent to contact an attorney.

See Our Related Blog Post:

Uterine Rupture and Birth Injuries

New Study Tests Risks of Vaginal Births After C-Section

September 18, 2012

Midwife Faces Charges After Trying to Hide Connection to Problematic Birth

The Daily Mail reported this week on child abuse charges filed against a midwife after attempts to cover up birthing complications.

According to the story, the midwife was helping a mother during a birth in late August of this year. The delivery was a breech--with the child positioned to be born feet first instead of head first as is normal. Unfortunately, serious problems developed for both the child and mother. But the midwife brushed it all off and pretended as if everything was fine. Specifically, the baby was born with severe bleeding on the brain and retina damage. In addition, the mother’s placenta was not delivered which led to an infection when the placenta became toxic.

However, regardless of the midwife’s assurances that things were fine, the family noticed something was wrong two days after the birth. They took the child to a local hospital.

Midwife Birth Injury Cover-Up
The midwife told the family not to tell the hospital that she was involved in the delivery. That is because she was apparently “having problems with her Midwifery license.” Eventually, the family did not follow those orders and told the medical professionals about the midwife’s assistance. Shortly thereafter the midwife was arrested. The charges involved intimidation of a witness and child abuse. In a subsequent court hearing the intimidation charge was dropped, but a judge found enough evidence for the child abuse charges to stand.

For her part the midwife’s attorneys argued in court that no birth is without risks, and natural complications are what developed here. The state’s Midwives Association voiced support for their member, noting that it seemed unfair that the woman would face criminal charges for an adverse outcome in a birth. They elaborated that a system is in place to investigate potential negligence or unreasonable conduct. This system is embodied in the civil justice system, without need for criminal charges.

Illinois Birth Injury Lessons
What can this story tell us about the reality of birth injuries in our state? For one thing, it is yet another reminder of the fragility of the situation. There is no way around it, childbirth always comes with risks to both the mother and child. Sometimes accidents will arise that could not have been prevented. At other times the caregiver will make a mistake and cause harm.

In addition, this story should give pause to all families who do suffer complications during birth--whether at a hospital or via midwife. Unfortunately, when mistakes are made, the first instinct for many involved parties is not to admit responsibility and do whatever possible to make the situation right. Instead, many clam up and cover up--focusing on protecting themselves and not helping those hurt as a result of preventable errors.

It is not easy to reverse course and get those involved to be open and honest about what happened. In many cases it requires legal action and the advocacy of an attorney to get answers. The birth injury attorneys at our Chicago firm work with families across Illinois on these issues. When negligence is involved the civil justice system ensures those hurt receive redress for their losses.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Doctors Explain How Medical Malpractice May Cause Cerebral Palsy

Lawsuit Alleges Cerebral Palsy Caused By Birth Injury

September 12, 2012

Identify Cerebral Palsy Early in Children

Cerebral palsy is a well-known illness often caused by complications during childbirth. CP actually refers to a range of conditions that affect one’s movements, posture, and balance. In that way, it is not a condition that affects all sufferers the same--there is spectrum of severity that ranges quite wide.

One complication with cerebral palsy is that, even when the underlying injury (to the brain) occurs during birth, the actual long-term effect on the child is not readily apparent. Instead, medical professionals are usually only able to identify various risk factors to CP development. In many cases the potential for harm is high, because of serious problems during birth. For example, premature infants are at a higher risk because of they have had less time to develop At other times, there child may show signs of fetal distress and have oxygen deprived to their brain for a prolonged period of time. All of these challenges may result in the child suffering from CP.

Early Cerebral Palsy Identification Is Crucial
Cerebral palsy is not evident until a child develops and shows signs of various challenges. The specific difficulties will range considerably, depending on the severity of the CP. Yet, no matter what, early identification of the condition is crucial. That is because treatment, education, and support for these children goes a long way in helping them deal with the challenges they will face as a result of their injury. A recent Times India story touched on the crucial role that parents can play in watching for early signs of cerebral palsy in their youngsters.

The story notes how one of the earliest signs of CP is a delay in an infant’s ability sit up and hold their neck. Similarly, irregularities with food intake weight gain, and fevers may also be signs of problems. In general, child growth experts explain that by three months of age most children will be able to hold their neck up and concentrate on objects. By six months most will begin to sit up and turn. By nine months the baby usually crawls and stands, with walking occurring not much after that. Of course, none of these rough guidelines are iron-clad dates, but they offer a helpful general guide to understand whether more professional help should be sought out.

Unfortunately, there is still a lack of awareness of these potential problems. One doctor interviewed for the story explains that, “There are certain milestones which the parents should monitor. More efforts are needed to make parents aware of the causes and to sensitize them about the prevention and treatment of this illness.”

Fortunately, treatments are available which can help significantly. Physiotherapy is often crucial. Various other forms of assistance are also available, depending on the child’s specific symptoms. For example, medicines are available to help with muscle tightening and spasticity. Surgeries, exercises, use of medical devices, and other options are also hugely beneficial. However, not identifying the possible problem means that the child loses precious time, with their recovery often stunted indefinitely.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

New Tool to Aid Those with Cerebral Palsy

Lawsuit Alleges Cerebral Palsy Caused by Birth Injury

September 10, 2012

Financial Struggles Following a Birth Injury

Some criticize filing a lawsuit following a birth injury under the assumption that it is better to just move on. After all, a lawsuit will not change the fact that the injury occurred, right? And so what is the point of pointing fingers and engaging in a legal battle over something that is over and done with? On top of that, lawyers working on these cases often deal with accusations that these cases are all about money—a power grab or get rich quick scheme.

Because of these opinions it is crucial to explain the reality of life for those whose children suffer a serious injury at birth. The sad fact remains that there is a huge difference in care provided to those children whose parents have a way to pay for the treatment they need versus children who are forced to rely on state support for survival. The difference between the long-term prospects for those children is large. For that reason, it is entirely logical and prudent for families to seek accountability from the wrongdoer when the underlying injury was caused by negligence.

Surviving After a Birth Injury
Cerebral palsy is perhaps the most well-known injury affecting children at birth. Those with cerebral palsy often need a wide range of support--which is expensive. How does a family provide that support? On one hand, the family may have means on their own to pay for things like daunting medical bills, special equipment, lifelong extra educational care, nursing support, and more. But these costs eventually reach hundreds of thousands (even millions) of dollars. Most families do not have that money.

So what is their alternative?

The only other option is to rely on support for state and federal assistance programs—funded by taxpayers. But it would be remiss to say that the public support is just as good as anything provided by those with their own means. It isn’t. Budget problems are well-known, and so support for individuals with special challenges (like those suffering from cerebral palsy), keep getting cut.

In addition, the living arrangements for children with cerebral palsy are limited when funds are provided by the public. For example, in some state children with cerebral palsy may be sent to live in nursing homes (traditionally reserved for elderly community members). A recent story in the Mason County Daily News, for example, explores how the U.S. Department of Justice is investigating Florida for potential violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act in just this regard.

According to the story, some children with cerebral palsy (and other disabilities) are being forced out of their homes and moved into institutions. Many parents of these children wish they could live with them, but the state does not provide at-home support services. The families do not have the money to pay for the at-home support on their own, and so the children often languish away from their family and friends in nursing homes for years.

Birth Injury Lawsuits
The bottom line is that there is a world of difference between life for a child with cerebral palsy who has an independent means of support and those who rely on public bodies for financial help.

Those who cause serious injury to others have a responsibility to pay for the consequences of that injury. This should not be a controversial idea. Once we get away from the misleading belief about these lawsuits being a money-grab, we can get to the truth about why fair access to the civil justice system in these cases it of the utmost importance. Pursuing the best for our children should matter to everyone, no matter what difficulties the child faces down the road.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

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Unwanted Intrusion with Forceps Leads to Birth Injury Lawsuit

September 7, 2012

Do Pregnancy Management Problems Lead to Maternal Deaths?

The Press-Gazette posted a story this week on a rally outside in downtown area by those calling for changes to birthing methods. The rally sent a clear message that community members cannot stand by when safety during childbirth is at issue. Life and death hangs in the balance whenever a mother goes in to give birth, and it is incumbent that medical caregivers act appropriately at all times.

Birth Injury Rally
According to the story over sixty people attending the downtown rally. It was organized by a group called “Improving Birth” which extols “evidence based” birthing practices. The underlying cause, participants say, was concern about the current state of maternal care in America. This concern is mirrored by many lawyers working on cases involving birth injury. While advances in medicine and true marvels of life-saving techniques exist, the number of injuries and deaths related to childbirth remain concerningly high.

Some push off the poor injury and death rates as indications of the inherent dangers in all childbirths, not any particular problem with current care methods. Yet, reformers argue that while childbirth involves risk, the current state of care in the U.S. during birth is deficient. They point to statistics which show that the United States is an abysmal 47th in the world for maternal death rate--far below most other advanced Western democracies. This translates into 21 deaths for every 100,000 live births; placing us on par with Iran and Hungary.

For rally participants the fix needs to come from hospitals themselves, as they urged administrators to review current birthing policies. Some participants argued that current practices do not mesh with the best science. Part of the argument concerns use of artificial means to give birth. One participant argued that “the state we’re in has women not trusting our bodies, believing we can’t give birth without machines, and its not true.”

In addition, others point to a lack of access to quality health care as a crucial cause of the relatively high maternal death rate. Facility shortages and poor quality care were cited as the main culprits in two reports on the issue published in the Association for Reproductive Health Professional’s Contraception Journal.

One of the specific claims made by rally participants were concerns about unnecessarily induced labor. Some local families experienced significant side effects following induction complications. These problems arise, in part, via the medications used to induce the labor,increasing the strength and frequency of contractions.

Birth Injury Lawsuits
The argument made by participants of this rally touch on some legal issues as they pertain to accountability following a birthing error. All civil lawsuits seek to identify “reasonable care” in any given situation. That determination of reasonableness (one would hope) would be rooted in evidence-based practices. Though, determining exactly what actions fall into that category and what do not is often tricky to delineate. Parsing through the arguments and comparing with conduct elsewhere is a key part of the effort and an underlying theme in all legal cases following allegations of misconduct during childbirth.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Birth Injury Case Spurs Questions About Med Mal Jury Instructions

Unwanted Intrusion with Forceps Leads to Birth Injury Lawsuit

August 14, 2012

Prenatal Care Plays Role in Preventing Birth Injuries

Child development and birth is never without some risks. So many variables are at play in these situations that it is impossible to remove all chance of complications causing a birth injury affecting the mother or child. Of course, that does not mean that steps cannot be taken to minimize those risks. Each Chicago birth injury attorney at our firm works with local residents who have been hurt because reasonable steps were not taken to minimize those harms. In many cases the errors occur during the birth itself--such as when a infant is not properly monitored, excess force is applied, or emergency maneuvers are not taken in a timely fashion. In a few other cases the problem may actually stem from inadequate care before the delivery. A growing body of evidence continues to add support to the vital role played by prenatal care.

Proper Prenatal Care
A helpful article this week written by a physician reminds all families of the importance of having quality, consistent prenatal care. Unfortunately, many mothers still fail to receive the help they need during the pregnancy, either because they do not seek out the care or because it is provided inadequately.

For one thing, the data is clear on the effect of failing to have medical help at all during a pregnancy. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that failing to receive prenatal care makes it three times more likely that a child will have low birth weight and five times more likely that the baby will not survive the birth.

What is proper prenatal care?

In general, it is best to have monthly visits with a doctor. As the due date gets closer, however, the frequency may be stepped up. The idea is that possible problems can be monitored and caught as early as possible--that includes things like high blood pressure or diabetes. The pregnancy is stressful on the mother’s body and these problems can develop during pregnancy, even if the mother has no history of diabetes or high blood pressure.

Serious problem in the child can also be identified ahead of time. For example, if the child has a serious heart defect, that may be noticed early on--instead of after the baby is born. The benefit of early detection is that the medical team can ensure that proper equipment is available immediately to deal with the issue once the child is delivered.

The medical benefit of having support during a pregnancy is clear. The Illinois birth injury lawyers at our firm also know, however, that there is emotional value to the medical aid throughout pregnancy. Having a good relationship with a physician before the delivery is a helpful way to ease tension, lessen worry, and make the actual delivery a bit less stressful. These benefits should not be underestimated.

No matter what, however, mothers should never forget that they are entitled to proper care during their birth--whether they had prenatal care or not. Medical professionals are held to a reasonableness standard in all of their interactions with all patients In our area when they fail in that standard and cause harm, then an Chicago birth injury lawsuit might be appropriate.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

New Birth Injury Lawsuit Alleges Failure to Address Gestational Diabetes

Proper Care Needed to Prevent Shoulder Dystocia Injuries

June 10, 2012

Natural Childbirth Organizations Growing in Popularity

The Dispatch posted this week on the growth of popularity in “natural childbirth” organizations. The Chicago birth injury lawyers at our firm appreciate that many local residents participate in these sorts of organization in our area as well. These organizations usually focus on sharing information with expectant mothers about the potential use of midwives, “doulas,” and other alternatives to the traditional birth in the hospital process.

The increasing popularity includes more public support for these groups. For example, the Columbus Dispatch reported this week on grants that were recently doled out to local groups supporting natural childbirth options. A Blue Cross Blue Shield grant program recently provided funds to the natural childbirth organization for their work helping mothers learn about alternatives to hospital births.

One organization, Organic Mothers, is seeking to share information about the prevalence of unnecessary C-section births. We have often discussed the increasing use of C-sections in situations where it may not be necessary. However, while those C-section rates must be investigated, we have worked on many cases where doctors fail to perform a timely C-section, resulting in severe birth injuries to a child that might otherwise be prevented. It is important that each of these situations be handled on a case-by-case basis. Not all C-section are necessary, but doctors are still required to perform these emergency surgical births when the situation demands it.

Birth Injury Lawsuits
Each Illinois birth injury attorney at our firm appreciates that the choice on how the give birth is a very personal one. There is not necessarily a right or wrong answer in all cases, and local families are best served when fully informed of all options and risks before deciding what makes the most sense in their individual case.

From a legal perspective, the format of the birth may have implications both on who can be held accountable if something goes wrong and how much the wrongdoer may be able to compensate those hurt when mistakes are made.

In a traditional hospital setting, if the caregivers fail to provide a reasonable standard of care during the birth, resulting in a birth injury, the medical professional and hospital can usually be held accountable. Those actors have medical malpractice insurance which exists specifically for those situations to compensate the children and their family.

Alternative birthing options—like an at-home birth with a midwife—may present some differences. As an initial matter, families should remember that they always have the option to file a lawsuit against those whose negligence causes them harm—such as a midwife. However, it is important for local residents to be aware of their own midwife’s ability to pay for potential complications if errors are made. There are different types of midwives, and each may present different liability risks for mothers. In Illinois, “lay midwives” are technically banned, meaning that only those with proper certifications are able to perform the service. At the end of the day it is vital for local residents to fully research their options and chose a birthing professional that has a solid track-record.

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Judicial “Hellhole” Report is a PR Stunt

May 14, 2012

Maternal Health Was Focus of “No Mother’s Day” Event

The weather was gorgeous yesterday throughout most of Chicagoland, allowing local residents the chance to celebrate the Mother’s Day holiday with cookouts, picnics, and other fun family gatherings. Each Illinois birth injury lawyer at our firm appreciates that every day is a good one to salutes Moms everywhere—but it is nice to have a reminder every May to take the time to give thanks for all that mother’s do each and every day to keep families together and strong.

Yet, because of the very nature of our work, we are intimately familiar with the many families who no longer have a mother around. Of course, many mothers pass on after a long, fruitful life. Others, however, are taken much sooner—often during childbirth or later on as a result of various birthing complications. Maternal death rates vary throughout the world, but, as we’ve often discussed, the death rate for mothers in the U.S. is higher than one might expect. It is higher than most other developed countries in the world.

To honor those who we have lost during childbirth and focus attention on the continued problems faced by mothers during birth across the world, the Global Health Initiative’s “Every Mother Counts” conducted a program known as “No Mother’s Day” to highlight the consequences of losing mothers during pregnancy or childbirth from various complications or birth injuries.

MSNBC held a segment on the program this weekend. The full segment can be viewed online here.

The story explains how every year more than 360,000 mothers die across the world as a result of these pregnancy and birthing complications. The suffering and heartache faced by all those loved ones left behind is impossible to quantify. Christy Turlington Burn, former model and activist, explained the project’s goal: “What we are trying to do is get people to stop for a moment and consider how many lives are lost each day, and on Mother’s Day in particular, and to try to generate some of the positive energy and love toward every mother.”

The segment discussed the high rate of birth injuries and maternal mortality rates, including in the United States. For example, in Ireland the mortality rate is 1 in every 47,600 birth. In the United States the rate is 1 in 4800. That is a shocking discrepancy and runs counter to the assumption that the U.S. must have better healthcare systems in place. Out of that total number of deaths, the organization noted that at least half are entirely preventable. In the U.S. there are clear demographic trends. African American women are four times more likely to die in childbirth than Caucasian women. Observers explain that there is a wide range of factors that contribute to the discrepancy. In general the two main causes are a lack of quality in certain neighborhood hospitals and a lack of proper prenatal care for expectant mothers.

Each Chicago birth injury lawyer at our firm at Levin & Perconti salute all mothers and hope that yesterday was filled with much love, family, and great memories. However, we also urge local residents to take a moment to remember those mothers that we’ve lost—that includes those who died during childbirth.

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April 25, 2012

Pregnant Mothers’ Use of Pain Medication Rising

Earlier this week the Chicago Tribune published an interesting story that shared information about the rise in popularity of pain control measures during childbirth. Each Chicago birth injury lawyer at our firm appreciates that these sorts of decisions are very personal ones that must be made individually after serious conversation between families and their doctor. From a legal perspective the main issue is ensuring that the advice and conduct of involved medical professionals is reasonable as it relates to all matters—including pain medication—ensuring that preventable birth injuries do not develop.

In any event, data suggests that use of pain medications—usually called an “epidural”—has been growing. The medication is usually delivered via an injection in the epidural space of the spinal cord. The result is that the mother loses sensation in her pelvis area for a time. As one new Chicago mother explained, “After having the epidural, I felt pressure but not the horrible plain. I cannot imagine doing it without the epidural.”

Local obstetricians have suggests that roughly 90% of local women have epidurals during their pregnancy when delivering vaginally. This compares to roughly 75% use only ten years ago. The doctors explain colloquially that they’ve seen a clear rise in popularity of the pain control. In the past, there was a larger push to “go natural.” Beyond the philosophical changes, in the past the epidural use was lower in part because some maternity wards were less likely to have an anesthesiologist on duty who could provide the pain relief.

The problem of available anesthesiologists still exists in some places. University hospitals are more likely to have one of these medical professionals available at all hours and so epidural statistics at those facilities is usually higher. In fact, non-university hospitals that do have an anesthesiologists available 24/7 often use that fact as a marketing point, urging mothers to chose the hospital specifically because of the availability of this pain control option. Our Illinois birth injury lawyers understand that more and more mothers are conducting more sophisticated planning of all aspects of their pregnancy. It is logical for the availability of an anesthesiologist around-the-clock to be a consideration in those preparation efforts.

Interestingly, a 2008 report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found that epidurals were more common depending on the mother’s age and education level. The younger and more educated the mother the more likely they would seek an epidural. Also, expectedly, hospital births are more likely to include an epidural as compared to at-home births. In addition, the more prenatal care that a mother has received prior to delivery increases the likelihood of an epidural. The report also found that of those who began a delivery without planning to have an epidural, more than fifty percent of them will eventually ask for pain medication.

Some mothers cannot receive epidurals for a variety of medical reasons. In those cases, mothers can have narcotic painkillers through IVs or use hypnosis or acupuncture. The IV painkiller option is often avoided, however, because it usually leads to the child becoming sleepy.

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April 24, 2012

New Study Examines Heart Risk of Children Born Using IVF

Health Canal reported last week on the results of a new study which sought to examine the health of aging children who were born using in Vitro Fertilization (IVF). The first IVF birth took place in 1978—at the time referred to as “test tube babies.” That means that the first wave of IVF babies is now about thirty four years old. This new research project sought to examine the health of these individuals to determine if the same basic health outcomes were seen in IVF children as compared to those born naturally. Our Chicago birth injury lawyers realize that the results may one day lead to changes in IVF procedures in order to account for any unwelcome results.

It has long-been known that IVF babies have some general increased risks of malformation. Anywhere from 20% to 30% more IVF babies will not develop properly when compared to natural conception and development. Yet, the overall risk of malformation is very low, and so this increase in the risk does not result in a tremendous increase in the total number of developmental problems.

Yet, this latest research effort examined the more subtle (and potentially widespread) issue related to increased risk of cardiovascular risks, like heart attacks and strokes. Are IVF babies more likely to face these harms when they are older?

The latest research effort found that IVF children may have an increased risk of suffering from a cardiovascular disease down the road. This conclusion was reached by medical examinations of a group of teens born using IVF and a group without using IVF. The researchers found “significant adverse changes in their developing blood vessels.” The problems in the IVF children were likely caused by events that happened in the test-tube according to a report by the researchers published in the latest issue of the journal Circulation.

Our Illinois birth injury lawyers believe that it will be important for all medical professionals dealing with in vitro fertilization birth to incorporate all relevant information from these sorts of research efforts into practices and procedures in the future. This is of growing importance because recent estimates suggest that anywhere from one to three percent of all births (at least in developed nations) involve this sort of fertilization As we often explain, the law does not guarantee any child or family member no injury or long-term harm that is in any way connected to developments in the womb or birth. However, the law does demand that caregivers take reasonable steps to limit the risks of harm.

The determination of what is or is not reasonable depends in large part of available medical knowledge and common practices in the profession. For in vitro fertilization, the birth injury risks might be able to be limited with changes in protocol while the embryo is in the test tube. If more information makes those changes clearly necessary, then the reasonable standards might change. The law may then require facilities to incorporate those changes, with potential legal liability if a facility lapses.

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April 12, 2012

Fewer Birth Defects Seen in Planned Pregnancies

Our Illinois birth injury lawyers appreciate that expectant mothers are constantly on the lookout for new information about the best ways to ensure that their child develops normally. Preventing birth defects and birth injuries are a paramount concern. Yet it is hard to keep all of the information straight about what does or does not constitute best practices when it comes to having a healthy child develop. We appreciate that it is always best to place the most weight on the advice of trusted medical experts.

However, that does not mean that mothers should take whatever is said without question. In fact, it is important for expecting women to be active in their own care by asking questions to figure what is best in their own case. In fact, the research and questioning is best begun even before one is pregnant so that appropriate actions can be taken immediately.

Last week, US News published a story that explored how planning a pregnancy is one important way to limit the risks of birth injuries, defects, and other complications. The planning is particularly important for women who are taking medications for chronic conditions. Depending on the specific circumstances, taking those medications while pregnant can have serious effects on the child’s development. It is important to be very alert to those risks by asking professionals about the potential dangers. If the medication is dangerous it should generally be stopped immediately if possible. However, women who are not planning a pregnancy may not realize they are pregnancy until weeks later, after they have already been taking the potentially harmful medication.

As the medical director for the March of Dimes explained, “Women should speak with their physician about their plans to become pregnancy. If they have a condition that requires medication, that’s an ideal time to switch to medications that have less risk, if necessary.” In addition, this allows the woman’s underlying condition for which she was taking the medication to stabilize.

Each Chicago birth injury lawyer at our firms appreciates that this planning can literally have life or death consequences. About one in every thirty three births involve some sort of abnormal development according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Many of those defects are life threatening. In fact, defects are the leading cause of death for children under the age of one. The CDC explains that the majority of defects occur in the earliest stages of the pregnancy, often before the mother even knows that she is pregnant.

One neonatal expert clarified that the most dangerous time for a developing child is weeks three and eight. It is then that the organs are developing. If the mother is taking dangerous drugs at that time, the baby is at an increased risk of having developmental problems during that crucial development period. That must be guarded against. Women with seizure disorders, diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, autoimmune diseases, and others need to be particularly on the look-out for this, because they are likely to be taking medication that might pose a risk to a developing child. The risks can be minimized by working with an obstetrician before getting pregnant to switch to less-dangerous medications where possible.

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April 5, 2012

Cerebral Palsy May Be Prevented with Antioxidants

The Chicago cerebral palsy lawyers at our firm have worked with many local families whose children have developed cerebral palsy due to the negligence of their medical professional during birth. As we have often explained, cerebral palsy is a “catch all” term that is used to describe a variety of conditions that affect a child’s physical movement abilities. Because the term refers to a range of conditions, there are different ways that cerebral palsy can develop. Preventable birth injuries during delivery is one way, while developmental abnormalities throughout the growth process in the womb is another.

Right now the developmental problems which cause cerebral palsy are essentially not preventable. Doctors are often able to identify risk factors to determine what children may not be developing properly, but they possesses few intervention tools that would help them actually stop or reverse the problem.

However, a new article from Canberra Times discusses a new human trial that is about to get underway which may yield results to help prevent developmental problems in the womb which often lead to cerebral palsy. The trial is set to study to effect of antioxidants given to women’s who exhibit certain signs which often lead to the improper fetal growth. The trial will take place at Monash Medical Center. It will involve giving certain at-risk pregnant woman an antioxidant melatonin to corrective oxidative stress. Researchers explain that about five percent of all women have placentas which do not provide sufficient oxygen and nutrients for a developing child. In particular, the developing child’s brain is often starved of the resources it needs to grow properly. The oxidative stress caused by the lack of nutrients creates excess chemicals known as “free radicals” that then destroy normal tissue. Conditions like cerebral palsy often result.

In animal trials (on lamb fetuses), doctor saw success with this treatment plan. Those fetuses which showed signs of oxidative stress essentially had the problem fixed when the mothers were given antioxidant melatonin. Doctors are hoping that the same results are mirrored in humans.

Each Illinois birth injury attorney at our firm appreciates the life-long consequences of these injuries and developmental problems that affect new children. The ability to prevent or repair this kind of damage is a tremendous way to save lives (and costs) for thousands of local families.

Through our work we understand that while doctors can prevent much harm by exercising reasonable care during the birth itself, other damage is not preventable when it arises well before the child is actually ready to be born. Treatment options which tackle those early development problems are few and far between. This latest research is encouraging because it provides early intervention. As one obstetrician explained, “Pregnancy is a black box—we are watching, but until now there has been nothing we can do to intervene.” It will be crucial to keep abreast of the results of this latest trial to determine if it produces results which may prove useful for local families facing similar oxidative stress issues.

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March 11, 2012

Link Found Between SSRI Use During Pregnancy and Injuries and Defects

Medscape shared the results of a new study on Wednesday that suggests that use of serotonin reuptake inhibitors (better known as SSRIs) can increase the risk of a range of child development and birth injury problems. SSRIs are a range of medications that are most often used to treat depression in woman. The research effort was conducted by experts in the Department of Epidemiology and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Erasmus Medical Center. The findings were published in this week’s online edition of Archives of General Psychiatry.

The study itself involved examination of various groups of women, some of whom were depressed and treated with SSRIs. Researchers found that while use of SSRIs seemed to lessen depressive symptoms in the women, it also led to significantly higher risk of fetal development abnormalities—including small head size. In addition, those who received SSRIs during their pregnancy were more than twice as likely to have preterm births.

However, some are questioning the findings and suggest that the abnormal development may be connected to the depression itself and not the SSRI treatment. Instead, many are calling for more research with better controls so that stronger evidence can be obtained which shows that the drug itself leads to the harm. Part of the problem is that it is hard to get sample sizes with depressive participants large enough to be statistically strong. In this latest study, for example, over 91% of the participants actually had no depressive symptoms, and so the examination of information from those who did can be criticized for coming from too small a group.

So what effect does this research (and others like it) have on birth injury lawsuits?

It is too early to tell. As our Chicago birth injury lawyers often share, the law focuses mostly on conduct as opposed to harm. Of course harm to a mother or child must be present in some form for a case to proceed, but the most important aspect of any Illinois medical malpractice lawsuit or product liability lawsuit that might arise in one of these situations is the conduct of those involved. Legal liability would likely not attach if all those involved, from doctors to drug manufacturers, truly had no idea that the prescription of these medications might cause harm. However, it may be true that signs existed or evidence was available which suggested otherwise. If those signs were ignored or not taken as seriously as they reasonably should have been, then the law might hold those negligent parties accountable for their lack of action that led to the drug-related harm.

No matter what, however, if you or a loved one has been hurt in some way and have suspicions about the connection between certain drug use, there is little to lose by seeking out help. A legal professional experienced in these matters can gather information specific to your case and provide more tailored information. If you are in Illinois, our Illinois birth injury attorneys can provide that guidance at no cost. Please contact us to see how we can help.

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February 28, 2012

Jails in Some States Still Allowed to Shackle Female Inmates During Pregnancy

A controversial topic in recent years has been treatment of female inmates during childbirth. Though it is an image that many do not think of when envisioning the prison population, there are often pregnant women who get sentenced to prison time, with their due date set for their time in jail. Correctional facilities have various policies regarding what must happen during these births. Our Illinois birth injury lawyers appreciate that there is much disagreement about what policies work best and what policies are even constitutionally allowed. We have previously blogged about several birth injury lawsuits related to improper treatment of pregnant inmates.

However, many jurisdictions still allow shackling during pregnancy and labor. For example, the Warren County Reporter reported this week on the failure of a piece of legislation in Virginia that would have prohibited shackling of these inmates during labor. According to the report, a General Assembly Delegate sponsored the measure this session, but the bill failed to make it out of a subcommittee.

The Delegate who introduced the measures explained that he was appalled when he discovered that the practice still went on. He summarized by noting that as he “dug into the policies and what motivated the prisons and the local and regional jails to do this, [he found that] they really don’t have a policy; they just shackled everyone.” This seemed misguided. He instead was hoping to urge lawmakers to use the lease restrictive restraints possible in these situations. This does not seem like a controversial provision. Common decency would seem to suggest that a pregnant woman should not be shackled if the shackles are not truly necessary.

This is not just a decency problem, either. The health and well being of the mother and child can be affected. A birth injury could result that otherwise might be prevented as a result of this policy. According to a local member of the ACLU which supported the change to the bill, there is much documentation on the risks associated with these practices. She noted, “Pregnancy can create problems with balance that are exacerbated by shackling.” The shackles make it more likely that a pregnant woman might trip or otherwise brace herself during a fall. The contact made in these falls can lead to miscarriage or injury. Another delegate supporting the measure emphasized that the female body was inclined to move during labor. Moving into the proper birthing condition is necessary for a safe and healthy childbirth. Shackling may prevent that, leading to a range of potential birth injuries.

Interestingly both conservative groups (a pro-family council) as well as a myriad of liberal groups have voiced support for the measure. However, that did not stop the subcommittee to which the bill was assigned from tabled the measure. This move effectively ends the bill’s momentum this cycle and prevents a full committee from hearing the matter. In the meantime, opponents of shackling pregnant inmates are hoping to stop the practice by influencing internal policies with the jails outside of the state legislative process which would have forced the rule changes.

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February 20, 2012

Is that “New Car Smell” Bad for Pregnant Women?

CBS News 2 reported on a unique story this week that may catch some local residents off guard. Apparently the aromas which are often so distinct on the inside of a new car may actually be caused by chemicals which pose a health risk to those inside. In particular, researchers now believe that the chemicals used in these products may be especially dangerous for pregnant women and young children.

Our Chicago birth injury lawyers had heard that the infamous “new car smell” may have some dangerous roots, but this latest story is the first that we’ve come across which involves some a detailed scientific approach to measuring the dangers of each new car brand. The researchers, from the national Ecology Center explained that the smell that is so distinct in these new vehicles is actually caused by the “off-gassing” of certain toxic chemicals inside the new car’s interior. One of the most common are lead, chromium, and brominated flame retardands (BFRs). These are not tame substances, and all expectant mothers or those with young children should be aware of the risks. In total, researchers identified at least 275 different chemicals in these machines, many of which were associated with birth injuries, liver problems, learning deficiencies, and even cancer.

This latest story was spurred by the Ecology Center’s work examining more than 200 cars from the new lines of all the major manufacturers. The group then ranks each vehicle in their annual “Best” and “Worst” lists based on their findings. According to the list, the “healthiest” new car this year is the 2012 Honda Civic. The researchers noted when releasing their list that the Civic did not have any BFRs. In addition, it did not have polyvinyl chloride (PVC) in the interior, which is common among many new cars (and dangerous). PVC is most often used on car trims and in fabrics. On top of that that Civic was low in heavy metal use, which boosted its rankings in the study. Other “healthy” cars included the Toyota Prius and Honda CR-Z. At the other end of the scale, the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport was labeled the “unhealthiest” car of the year in regards to its chemical use. Other low performers included the Chrylser, 200 SC and the Kia Soul.

Each Illinois birth injury attorney at our firm appreciates that there seem to be new things discovered every day which pose some risks to pregnant women and their developing babies. It is sometimes hard to keep all of the dangers straight. On one hand, it is impossible to avoid all the activities, locations, or situations that pose dangers. But it is at least important to be aware of what the risks are, so that basic decisions can be made which might slightly lower the risks of your child experiencing a birth injury. Of course, if at any time your own child does suffer an injury at birth and you suspect it might be caused by misconduct on the part of your medical professional or another, be sure to get in contact to learn how we might be able to help.

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February 14, 2012

Is Induced Labor Best for Large Babies?

Over the past few weeks our Chicago birth injury attorneys have discussed the concerns being raised by many about the prevalence of C-section births. Instead of allowing natural vaginal births to progress, many more families have made the decision (often at their doctor’s urging ) to induce labor early. C-sections are often performed. While there are times when surgical births are absolutely essential, when they are not necessary their use can actually pose a greater risk of a birth injury developing. As with most situations, a balanced approach seems to work best.

A recent article from MedPage Today touched on the merits of induced labor. Interestingly, some experts are claiming that the larger the baby the increased need to induce labor. Swiss researchers have conducted some analysis which suggests that children who are larger than normal for their date of birth often face less birth trauma when there is an induced birth as opposed to allowing nature to take its course.

For example, the analysis of birthing trends in certain areas found that fetuses who estimated weight based on sonograms were in the top 5% of children of that age were three times more likely to experience shoulder dystocia when birthed naturally. Shoulder dystocia often results when an infant’s shoulder is caught on the mother’s public bone during birth. When not properly addressed the dystocia can cause a range of issues, including brachial plexus injuries. Brachial plexus injuries are some of the most common harms to befall infants. The brachial plexus is a bundle of nerves at the top of the arm. When torn or otherwise damaged, the injury can result in the child losing the ability to use their shoulder, arm, wrist, hand, and fingers. The Illinois birth injury attorneys at our firm have worked with many families whose children suffered one of these injuries which could have been prevented.

The latest findings regarding the benefit of induced labor in larger infants were reported at the annual meeting of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine. The results mirror the beliefs of many. Previous observational studies had found that labor induction might lower birth weight (in situations where it was already high) and decrease the change of a range of injuries, including shoulder dytocia, brachial plexus injury, and death.

However, previous studies did find that C-section usage was higher in induced births. Considering the potential increases in risks with surgical births, this must factor into each independent determination about the best course for a birth. Also, as the lead researcher noted, “as with all evidence-based medicine, we should take into account the characteristics and preferences of the woman themselves.”

These latest findings are helpful to fill in gaps about the overall risks and merits of each course of action that can be taken by an expecting family. At the end of the day, many of these decisions depend on balancing a wide range of factors. There is never one size that fits all. In each case, however, it is important for families to take an active role in the decision-making process. Mothers should ask every question that comes up and be sure to be aware of the reasons behind each choice that is being made.

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February 5, 2012

“Doulas” Help Mothers Going Through Childbirth

Many readers have likely heard the word “midwife” to describe those who help mothers give birth, usually outside of the traditional hospital context. However, our Illinois birth injury attorneys were interested in reading a story this week on a different name for those who help expectant mothers both before, during, and after birth—Doula. “Doula” is actually an ancient Greek word that means “woman’s servant.”

A recent Southeast Missourian story discussed the role of doulas, and the way that they work to help women have good pregnancy experiences and deliveries void of birth injuries. Most community members have likely never heard of the term before, and are unfamiliar with how it differs from a midwife. One local doula claims that she has perfected the two sentence soundbite to explain the profession, noting:

“I’m there for hands-on physical, emotional, and educational support before, during, and after childbirth. I’m kind of like a paid labor coach. I explain the process more than the doctor has time for and remind moms what they learned in childbirth class.”

This particular doula explains that she started in the profession because she herself had a bad birth experience. Our Chicago birth injury lawyers have learned that many midwives first became involved in the practice the same way—following a birth injury that they suffered themselves. The doula noted that in her case she wanted a natural birth but did not educate herself enough about what that meant. As a result her pregnancy ended with an induced birth, the use of forceps, and episiotomy, and severe postpartum depression afterwards.

Following her personal ordeal the woman decided to help others avoid her mistake. She began studying about osbtetrics, midwifery, and breast-feeding. She was eventually certified by the Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association. She now serves as a doula as well as an independent childbirth educator and certified lactation consultant.

She explained that once she is hired by parents as a doula she works alongside doctors and nurses in the hospitals or a midwife in the home during the birth. During the birth she helps the mother to find her “zone,” staying calm, and remembering what she had learning about proper breathing. Beyond the actually aid and comfort during the delivery, the doula also spends much time helping before and after the birth. She meets with parents to discuss the birthing plan and coping mechanisms. The doula helps during the “pushing” part of the birth and then a few hours after the birth to ensure that the mother is doing alright and that the breast-feeding is going well. In addition, the doula makes a few visits to the family after the birth to check on the breast-feeding, discuss the overall birth experience, and screen for postpartum depression.

The doula urged readers to consider having help through the process. She explained that historically the role was performed by mothers and sisters. However, with changing times that family network is often unavailable in these situations. The doula believes that she helps make the life of the doctors or midwives easier, and acts as a vital resource for both mothers and fathers.

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January 25, 2012

Doctor Joins in Call to Limit C-Section Use

Discussion about the merits, drawbacks, and concerns related to C-section births continues across the blogosphere this week. Yesterday the chairman of the Department of Medicine at Cedars-Sinai wrote an editorial in the Huffington Post reiterating the risks of C-section births, particularly for those mothers who have already had one performed. Our Chicago birth injury attorneys have long been attuned to these concerns. It is vital that medical caregivers (and expectant mothers) take heed of these warning to ultimately ensure potential complications during delivery and birth injuries are minimized.

The doctor explained that C-section births currently account for just short of 33% of all births in the United States. The number has been rising over the years, but it remained steady for the first time ever in the last two years. While the stall in the increase is encouraging, much more work needs to be done to get the level down to that where it is performed only when absolutely necessary. To keep this decades-long problem into perspective, in 1970 the rate of C-section birth was only 5%. This increase is a problem because, as the chairmen of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Cedars-Sinai noted, “despite the rise in the number of C-sections, there is no evidence that it has improved the health of mothers or babies.” In fact, as our birth injury lawyers have pointed out recently, there has been an increase in the number of maternal deaths in recent years.

After noting that there are many different reasons for the increase, one disturbing factor is that there has been a shortage of vaginal births after C-sections. These procedures, known as VBACs, have lost fashion in the medical community under the idea that “once a C-section, always a C-section.” Right now only 8% of the women who have had a C-section once give birth vaginally afterwards. C-section births are inherently more risky than vaginal births, because they come with the potential for surgical complications otherwise not present in vaginal births.

The story’s author notes that those VBAC rates are far lower than they need to be. Those medical facilities that prioritize VBACs have been able to safely increase the rate from 8% to 35%. In the past research has suggested that there are increased risks of certain birth injuries (such as uterine rupture) when woman have VBACs. Obviously those concerns must be taken into account. However, newer research from the American College of Gynecologists and Obstetricians release new information which explained that better identification of risk factors among VBAC candidates can allow those risks to be eliminated.

Interestingly recent expert panels have explained that those who go through labor after a C-section have a decreased risk of maternal death. This is true whether one continues through with the vaginal birth or whether a C-section is ultimately required. At the end of the story the doctor notes that a C-section “remains a major surgery with major risks.” Therefore pregnant woman should fully explore all of their options with talking with doctors about how they’d like to proceed.

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January 12, 2012

More Pregnant Mothers Trying “Hypnobirthing”

Late last year we reported on the world’s largest study of the fear of childbirth. The mother’s emotional state and mental health at the time of the birth has been found to influence the smoothness of the delivery. While the research project is still underway, those involved admitted that they expected to find a connection between the mother’s mental preparation, anxiety, and expectations about the birth and the presence or lack of birth injuries. Suffice to say, having a healthy outlook on the process may be of growing important for expectant mothers.

This is of particularly interest to our Chicago birth injury attorneys, because the vast majority of our cases are rooted in a similar set of circumstances: a traumatic birth arises and doctors do not act appropriately (or quickly) in response. Whether or not a birth is traumatic may very well be influenced by the mental state of the mother at the time. Therefore, actions which may calm the expectant mother—particularly those that harbor deep-seated fear of the process—may go a long way to limiting birth injuries and other preventable complications.

Keeping that background in mind might help explain why a unique concept known as “hypnobirthing is growing in popularity. WSET News published a story on the process late last week. As the name implies, hypnobirthing refers to the use of hypnosis to help calm a mother before and during labor. At a basic level the goal is to help the mother deal with the intense physical and mental pain associated with childbirth. One mother interviewed for the story noted something rarely heard about the birthing process, explaining: “I was calm and relaxed. I was actually comfortable for an entire seven-hour delivery.”

The hypnosis is most often used as a replacement for traditional pain medication options during the delivery. Many who have used the mental service report that instead of taking medicine they go to a “relaxed place.” Unlike what most readers likely think about when they hear hypnosis, hypnobirthing involves “self hypnosis.” This is much different from the stage hypnosis that is found at comedy clubs and entertainment shows. Self hypnosis is different than being put in a trance by a third party. Instead, it is about an individual arriving at a place of relaxation by controlling their own mind. In this way, it is perhaps best thought of as meditation.

Our birth injury lawyers know that many local early start parenting classes now offer hypnobirthing classes. Many of those who try it have reported happy results, and, as we already noted, it may help lead to a decrease in the risk of a birth injury. One local hypnobirthing coach argues that the hypnosis allows the mother’s body to react less intensely to the pain of birth, compared with a mother who is nervous or stressed. Another positive side effect is the increased prevalence of natural births for those who try hypnosis. C-section births are skyrocketing nationwide, often among parents who have a fear of natural birth. While C-section births are sometimes essential, they still come with increased risks of complications. All efforts that produce safe, natural births should continue to be explored.

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January 6, 2012

Proper Prenatal Care Vital to Preventing Birth Defects

Virtually all families who have a child develop a birth defect immediately ask the simple question: Why? Each Chicago birth injury lawyer at our firm, having worked on many cases of this sort, knows that the answers are never easy to give. Medical practitioners usually do their best to explain how a defect can arise, but in certain instances knowledge about the problem remains sparse. The fact is there is still much we do not know about exactly why certain problems arise over the course of a pregnancy and what can been done to prevent those problems.

Yet that is not to say that prevention is always impossible for birth defects. On the contrary, medical researchers have made amazing progress over the years in their efforts to slowly piece together the mysteries of the child development process—uncovering important information along the way about how to give the fetus the best chance possible of developing without a defect or birth injury. One point that is universally agreed upon is that proper prenatal care is critical in increasing the chance of giving birth to a full-term healthy infant.

One important issue is that many birth defects happen at the very beginning of a pregnancy. This presents a challenge, because it is means that the problems may arise even before a woman knows that she is pregnant at all. Because of that, pregnancy planning is often thought of as one of the best ways to prevent birth defects. Knowing that a pregnancy is coming can allow a woman to being taking certain vitamins that are beneficial in the development. Similarly, soon-to-be mothers can begin avoiding drugs or medications that may be harmful to the child. Many children have suffered debilitating (or even fatal) birth injuries simply because the mother ingested some substances in the first few weeks of the pregnancy without knowing that she was with child.

Beyond that, experts in this area report that there are a few basic steps that all women can take to help prevent defects:

1. Use Folic Acid: This vitamin supplement is beneficial for all women of reproductive age. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that taking 400 micrograms of folic acid every day is critical for pregnant women. A lack of folic acid has been linked to spina bifida (a congenital spine defect) as well as anencephaly (an absence of parts of the brain or skill).

2. Avoid alcohol: While some have suggested that a glass of wine a night or week might be acceptable, most still believe that there is no reason for a woman to do so while pregnant (or expecting pregnancy).

3. Don’t smoke: Obviously smoking is bad for both the mother and developing child. Specific risks include premature birth, cleft lip, and cleft palate. In fact, even secondhand smoke can affect a child, and so air quality should always be a concern for expectant mothers.

4. Consult Doctors About Medications: Over the counter drugs like Motrin or Ibuprofen can have serious negative consequences for a child, often causing miscarriages or heart defects. This also goes for those who are trying to conceive a child, as even small amounts in the earliest stages of the pregnancy can cause damage

5. Control diabetes: Repeatedly unstable blood sugar levels during pregnancy can have a wide range of complications for the child, including shortened limbs. It is important to keep it under control.

The Chicago birth injury attorneys at our firm encourage all mothers to practice good prenatal care. Ask your physician if at any time you have questions about how something may affect a child’s development.

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December 23, 2011

New Technique May Save Lives of Infants with Diaphragm Birth Defect

Medical News Today shared interesting information this week on a new in-utero procedure that has been found to improve the survival rates for infants with a unique diaphragm birth defect. The injury in question, congenital diaphragmatic hernia, is a birth defect caused essentially by the development of a hole in the infant’s diaphragm. This hole leads to a pulmonary hypoplasia, which is an incomplete development of the lungs. Frequent blog readers will be aware that improper lung development leads to a wide range of problems for children. For example, if lungs are not fully developed at birth, the child’s brain may not receive enough oxygen, causing permanent brain damage. Of course, in many cases the permanent malformation of the lungs proves fatal and the child does not survive.

However, a new study published in the Ultrasound in Obstetrics & Gynecology journal suggests that a procedure may be used to improve survival rates in these situations, particularly in the most severe cases of congenial diaphragmatic hernia (CDH). The study in question comes from Brazil, where researchers carried out randomized trials on forty one patients. All of the patients were women whose fetuses had developed CDH. The group was split in two, with one receiving the procedure, known as fetal tracheal occlusion (FETO), and the other receiving no intervention. The group receiving the treatment had it performed at some point between weeks 26 and 30 of their pregnancy.

Overall those in the research group gave birth on average a week earlier than the control group. Researchers found that of the group that had received the procedure, half of the infants survived (10 out of 20). On the other hand, only one of the twenty one children in control group survived. Therefore, researchers roughly concluded that while no treatment leads to a five percent chance of survival for these infants, providing the FETO treatment raises survival rates to about fifty percent. Experts believe that the procedure works by enhancing pulmonary growth. They suggested that this information is sufficient to lead professionals to consider FETO treatment to be standard care for the most severe forms of CDH.

Our Illinois birth injury lawyers know that these developments may have implications for the quality of care that patients should expect when it comes to treatment for CDH. Of course, it is not at all correct for patients to now assume that if their infant does not survive because of the condition than it is due to improper medical care. On the contrary, even with the FETO treatment, survival from the birth injury is only at fifty percent. Instead, determining whether or not a birth injury lawsuit should be filed following these infant deaths depends on a broader assessment of the general level of care that was provided by a medical team. Looking only at outcomes is not relevant to the base measure of whether negligence actually occurred. The unsatisfactory outcome generally only relates the damages assessment of any medical malpractice case. But damages are insufficient without a breach of care being proven.

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December 22, 2011

More Evidence Connects Rare Birth Defect to Mother’s Painkiller Use

Much news has been made recently about the link between parental painkiller use and preventable birth defects. Our Chicago birth injury lawyers wrote about this very topic last month. We explained how the problem should be viewed in two different ways. On one hand, there is growing alarm about the amount of children who are born to mothers that are addicted to painkillers. Many children develop opiate addictions while in the womb, because of their mother’s intentional consumption of painkillers during the pregnancy. This is a worrisome social problem, that many maternity ward nurses are working hard to combat. However, there is a second problem that is not related to mothers who are intentionally addicted to the painkillers. Instead, research is showing that even slight exposure to certain drugs among women in the earliest part of their pregnancies leads to increased risks of certain birth injuries.

The second problem is particularly troubling because many women (and doctors) had no idea that taking even common painkillers may present risks. If more research continues to pour in on the issue, it may be vital for medical professionals to change their practices to prevent these injuries from occurring.

The latest research on the topic was discussed last week by Fox News Health. It was explained how certain rare birth defects were seen more often depending on whether or not mothers took certain over-the-counter medications during the early stage of their pregnancy. The painkillers involved included common pills like aspirin, Aleve, and Advil. Babies born to mothers that had taken aspirin or Aleve where several times more likely to be born with eye problems like abnormally small eyes or no eyes at all. Amniotic band syndrome—a condition that causes malformations like clubfoot—were at least three times more likely among those who had taken painkillers. While these increases are troubling, experts admit that it is still too early to say with certainty that the increased birth injury risks are directly caused by the painkiller use.

Part of the reason why more research is needed is that the actual occurrence of many of these defects is so rare. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention note that the eye problems (anophthalmia and microphthalmia) occur in only one out of 5,300 births. Amniotic band syndrome is even rarer, seen in only one out of every 10,000 births.

These painkiller finding were published in the latest edition of the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Researchers involved in the study reached their conclusions based on data culled and analyzed from the National Birth Defects Prevention Study. As part of the study women were asked of their over-the-counter drug use during various parts of their pregnancy. The answers among 20,000 women were compared, some with birth defects and some without. Nearly thirty different defects were analyzed. In the vast majority of those defects, there seemed to be no connection to the use of these painkillers. However, the few rare defects mentioned above did show some connection to the mother’s drug use. Others that also seem connected to painkiller use was that for cleft palate and spina bifida).

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December 12, 2011

Steroid Use May Boost Survival Rates For Premature Infants

A new report from the National Institute of Health and discussed last week in PharmPro provides encouraging news for all those hoping to prevent premature child birth injuries. Of course, children who are delivered before the full term gestation period can have myriad problems that they otherwise wouldn’t. Considering that many children are born prematurely every year, medical researchers have been working to limit injuries and improve survival rates among this group for decades. Over the years staggering progress has been made. The good news continues to come in.

For example, according to the PharmPro story, prenatal steroids seem to improve the survival rates and chance of suffering an infant brain injury among those born as early as the twenty third week of pregnancy. A full pregnancy is usually considered to be forty weeks long. As medical knowledge has increased, the viability of those children born weeks (or months) before that normal time has increased. That viability period may continue to grow.

Per the new research from the National Institute of Health Network, prenatal steroids may be given to mothers at risk for premature birth earlier than they are currently given. Under current guidelines these drugs are given to those at risk of premature birth between the 24th and 34th week of their pregnancies. Yet, the latest study suggests benefit can be seen as early as the 23rd week of pregnancy. The study which reached this conclusion appeared in this month’s Journal of the American Medical Association and was led by the director of the Neonatology division at the University of Alabama.

The steroids benefit the infant by helping the fetus’s lungs more fully mature. Naturally those children born early have not had the time to properly develop. The failure to develop vital organs often leads to significant long-term birth injuries—that is if the child survives at all. Lung trouble is particularly common among premature infants as is brain underdevelopment. However, increased steroid use among mothers who may deliver premature infants may ultimately save more of these children, particularly those who are the most fragile (born between the 22nd and 25th week of pregnancy).

Before this study, there was little guidance on prenatal steroid benefits in infants born before the 24th week. The study was completed to fill the knowledge void. It involved examination of nearly 11,000 infants born preterm over the last 17 years. In additional neurological examinations were conducted of nearly 5,000 of those infants. The results found a robust impact from prenatal steroids. Specifically, there were 33% fewer deaths among those who received the hormones compared with those who did not. Additionally, blindness, deafness, and other injuries or disabilities were 20% lower in those surviving infants who received the steroids.

Experts report that premature infants born in this 22-25 week zone often die shortly after birth, despite all efforts possible being exerted to save them. Many others experience disabilities that last throughout their lives, anything from hearing loss and cerebral palsy to mental deficiencies. A few are able to survive into adulthood unaffected, and it is hoped that research like this will help more of these children reach maturity without complications. Our Chicago birth injury lawyers are encouraged by the results and hope that their findings are verified and implemented into practice is as efficient and safe manner as possible.

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December 8, 2011

Debate Rages About Continuous Fetal Heart Rate Monitoring

The Sacramento Bee reported this week on a new debate about the need for monitoring the heart rate of fetuses. As blog readers know, the monitoring of these heart rates is often important in allowing medical care providers to identify when there might be a problem with the child. Identifying fetal distress early and properly acting on it is vital to ensuring that preventable birth injuries are actually prevented. Failure to take appropriate action in these situations is at the heart of many birth injury lawsuits. In many ways it would seem completely logical for the monitoring to be conducted as thoroughly as possible.

However, some suggest that the constant monitoring actually causes more harm than good. They explain that the practice could result in unnecessary panic for both patients and doctors. Apparently, fetal heart rates can drop for a minute or two every four to five hours without other problems. There is then confusion about whether the physicians should intervene even though there are no other signs of distress. Short-live decelerations of the heart rate are occasionally a feature of pre-labor conditions, some argue. Therefore, they do not believe the pre-labor monitoring is necessary.

At the end of the day, the monitoring decision is mostly about finances. If the monitoring is not necessary, then many suggest that the resources of maintaining the monitoring should not be undertaken at the moment when it is unnecessary. This is a logical proposition, especially considering that healthcare costs have been steadily increasing over the years. However, it is vital that a proper balance be sought. It is inexcusable to pull the plug on the monitoring before it becomes especially clear that such monitoring truly provides little value to the patient. Also, it would be illogical to base the decision on the fact that some doctors might panic when a natural deceleration of the heart rate is spotted. Of course, the proper remedy if that is the motivation is not to remove the monitoring but to better train the physicians to understand what the proper course of action should be.

Our Chicago birth injury lawyers know that there is often a bit of confusion about these distinctions. It is one thing to make the general statement that errors are always going to be part of the medical process because humans are involved. That is likely true. However, it does not get to the root of the issue—or the legal question—about what the consequences of those errors should be. In other words, it may be true that errors will always exist, but those who make those errors are still required to compensate those hurt by the medical mistakes. It is not a legal excuse to say that a birth injury resulted because of a basic mistake that all humans make occasionally. If that is the case, then there is almost assuredly negligence that requires the wrongdoer to compensate the victim. The fact that an individual (or doctor) makes a mistake that leads to civil liability is not automatically a judgment from high about the overall quality of their work. Instead, it simply means that in this one particular instance they did not act properly and hurt another.

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December 7, 2011

New Test May Allow For Earlier Detection of Difficult Childbirths

Daily Rx reported this week on a new imaging test that may allow mothers to avoid difficult childbirths that often result in birth injuries. It is often helpful to think of two kinds of birth injuries, those caused by improper fetal development early in the pregnancy and those caused by problems at the moment of birth. Many of the problems that occur early on are difficult to prevent, as knowledge is still limited in the area. However, injuries caused by complications during delivery often hinge on the actions (or lack of actions) of the medical team deciding how the birth proceeds. That is why, more often than not, birth injury lawsuits are filed in connection to these delivery problems.

Fortunately, a new test may now be available which will help medical professionals prevent trouble during childbirth. The test is claimed to be able to predict ahead of time whether or not a birth will be smooth or difficult—allowing medical providers to plan ahead and potentially avoid complications. A team of French medical researchers tested the system which uses three dimensional images to simulate birth details. For example, they can analyze whether a child’s head has not turned properly which indicates that there may be trouble when it travels down the birth canal. Analyzing the child’s position in this way, before the birth, allowed the research doctors to correctly identify problematic births before they actually occurred.

By identifying the trouble earlier, doctors are able to know what to do to correct the problem. One of the main issues that our Illinois birth injury lawyers see time and again are doctors who fail to act properly when under the time pressure of discovering a birth problem in the middle of delivery. This test, if effective, can help doctors avoid that time pressure and plan ahead for extra steps that will need to be taken—or to schedule a C-section.

It is too early to tell how universally effective this new technique will prove to be. The researchers in this first study looked at images of 24 pregnant women using a new MRI computer program which tracks a baby’s womb growth. The team then generated three dimensional pictures of the mother’s pelvis while identifying the available routes of the child through the birth canal. That analysis allowed them to “score” each mother on a scale that predicted whether or not there would be complications during the delivery. In virtually all cases those mothers estimated to have a “highly favorable” birth without complications delivered normally. Conversely those who had been flagged for concerns actually required special intervention, C-section, or vacuum extraction.

Our birth injury attorneys believe that this system may significantly reduce the prevalence of unexpected birthing problems. Currently, doctors can usually only gauge likely birth complications ahead of time by measuring the size of a pelvis—a consistently unreliable indicator of potential delivery problems. This unreliability has significant consequences. For example, an unplanned C-section birth comes with a six to seven times increased risk of injury or death (for the mother or child) compared to planned C-sections.

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December 2, 2011

Using Forceps May Lead to Fewer Birthing Injuries

Illinois birth injuries which ultimately lead to a birth defect lawsuit are usually ones that occur just before the child is actually born. This usually makes the situations seem particularly tragic in that a life is forever changed in the blink of an eye. In many of these situations a baby had developed entirely normal and was just waiting to enter the world completely healthy. Yet, because of some mistake, lapse in judgment, or unreasonable delay, the child develops an injury that forever alters their life. Those families that are forced to deal with these problems often feel a sense of regret, thinking that their loved one developed serious problems that could and should have been prevented.

It goes without saying that work should be done to make these injuries as rare as possible. Fortunately, many medical researchers are working to do just that. Seemingly every day there is new information that is released revealing new information about what things may or may not contribute to this harm during childbirth. For example, Reuters last week published a story about new researcher which suggests forceps use may be unfairly going out of style. Specifically, use of forceps may help prevent brain injuries, at least when compared to alternatives. When a difficult childbirth situation exists, the medical professional usually has a range of ways in which he or she can handle the situation. The doctor can chose to use forceps, a vacuum pump, or may perhaps decide that a C-section is necessary.

Recently, out of those three choices, forceps use has been losing ground, as C-section rates have risen considerably, and vacuum pumps are used more than forceps. New research suggests these trends may not be wise. More brain injuries may be caused by the lessening use of forceps. Researchers out of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine are questioning vacuum pump and C-section use, claiming that forceps actually lead to fewer child brain injuries when compared to the others. One doctor involved said that the trend away from forceps use was confusing to begin with, because there never was much evidence suggesting that these alternative methods were safer in most emergency circumstances.

The latest research which involved the analysis of 400,000 live births in first time mothers suggests the opposite might be true. Out of that group, deliveries involving forceps resulted in forty five percent fewer infant brain injuries when compared with vacuum pump and C-section births. The brain injuries in question, when arising in infants, are most often caused by seizures which are less common when forceps birth occur. The seizures are usually caused by prolonged oxygen deprivation. Forceps often allow the birth to happen quicker, meaning that a child who has oxygen deprivation problem receives emergency medical intervention much sooner than often occurs in vacuum pump delivers. However, a different kind of brain injury resulting in head bleeding (subdural hematoma) was slightly less common when C-sections were performed.

At the end of the day, those involved in this latest research project suggest that it is incumbent upon patients to work with their doctor to plan ahead for these decisions. They advise expectant mothers and their families to talk with their doctor ahead of time so that if an emergency birth is needed there is no question about what steps should be taken. Unfortunately, many times there is confusion at times of emergency, leading medical providers to make mistakes or delay. Those problems often lead to permanent damage that cannot be undone and will forever influence the life of the new child.

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December 1, 2011

Zoloft Remains on the Market Despite Known Dangers for Pregnant Women

Birth injuries have a myriad of causes, some preventable, many unpreventable. The legal consequences of these injuries are obviously linked to whether or not something could have been done which would have prevented the harm from arising. If something could have been done, it does not automatically mean that there is legal liability and that a birth injury lawsuit should be filed. Instead, in most cases a reasonableness inquiry need be conducted. In other words, did an individual or legal entity (business, hospital, etc.) act in a way contrary to what a reasonable individual or entity would have done in similar circumstances. If so, then legal liability attaches.

The reasonableness analysis is at the heart of most personal injury cases. It is an objective standard in that it is not based on what the specific individual involved thought was reasonable. For example, even if a doctor believes he is acting appropriately, he or she may still be found to have been negligent if a “reasonably prudent” doctor in similar circumstances would not have though those actions appropriate. In other words, what is going on inside the head of the actual individual involved in not all that relevant.

However, this is not to say that the objective standard of reasonableness does not change. This is especially true in the medical context. Community standards and knowledge factor into what makes something reasonable or not reasonable to the ordinary member of the profession. In particular, as more information is obtained about the safety of a procedure or efficacy of a drug, the practice of doctor must change. Failure to adapt to change in knowledge means that conduct that formerly was reasonable will no longer be so under the law.

A new story from PR Web this week explores an ongoing issue of failure to adapt to changing knowledge which may lead to more birth injury lawsuits. Zoloft is an antidepressant that has become one of the most popular drugs in the world since its 1991 release. Its common use has resulted in billions of dollars in profits for its maker, Pfizer. At first, medical professionals had no idea that the drug may be harmful to child development when taken by pregnant patients. However, in recent years there have been many warnings about the harm that can result. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, along with many of the most respected medical research publications have issued warnings about Zoloft use for expectant mothers.

Unfortunately, despite these concerns, many who may be harmed by Zoloft use continue to take the drug. While the prescription may not have been unreasonable at the very beginning of the drug’s use, that changed as risk factors were identified. Those who made the product and prescribed it likely distributed the drug even while knowing that risk. Our Chicago birth injury lawyers know that this conduct may have violated the civil law. As a result, all those families who had a child born with a birth defect which may have been caused by the drug use should visit with a legal professional to learn what legal options may be available to them.

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November 20, 2011

Premature Infants and Brain Injuries

Most community members are well aware of the fact that premature births present many more complications for young involved mother and child than full term births. Clearly, infants generally need nine months to properly develop in the mother’s womb, and when they do not have that complete time to develop, birth injuries often result. Yet, beyond the basic understanding about premature birth risks, doctors are still learning about various aspects of the human development process. As knowledge in the area progresses, it is hoped that more options will be available to prevent certain birth injuries and allow these children to have normal lives.

For example, an NPR News article this week explored new medical researcher which is helping scientists better understand why brain injuries are so common among premature infants. The new research was unveiled by researchers at a Society for Neuroscience meeting this week. According to experts, this new knowledge may eventually lower the number of children born early who suffer from injuries like cerebral palsy, epilepsy, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and similar problems. Over 60,000 children are born each year weighing less than 3.3 pounds. Most of those children will survive, but many of them will suffer brain injuries.

Oxygen deprivation in the first hours and days after birth is most often the main cause of the infant brain injury. The white matter of the brain can be damaged when not enough oxygen is received. This matter is essentially the “communication highway” of the brain, allowing messages to be sent from the brain to other parts of the body. The less developed the young child, the more immature their lungs are. This means that their bodies are often incapable of delivering the necessary oxygen to the lungs. Even mechanical breathing devices have not been able to make up this difference.

A new incubator inside an MRI scanner has now allowed medical researchers to test the white matter damage in preterm infant brains. The new information had provided scientists with much more information about exactly how the white matter is injured. Is it hoped that this line of research will prove fruitful when figuring out how to prevent the damage. For one thing, experts now believe that action must be taken immediately after the child’s birth to prevent harm. One researcher explained, “There is a critical developmental time window right after birth. If development is disturbed during this critical time window then the brain doesn’t catch up.” There may be a way for doctors to intervene immediately after birth by giving infants a specific drug in certain areas that speeds up production of myelin—the brain matter most often damaged. Magnetic stimulation of certain brain areas and temporarily lowering body temperature may also eventually prove to help prevent this brain damage in premature infants.

Our Chicago birth injury lawyers will be watching these developments closely. No personal injuries are as devastating as those involving young children, because they are often affected throughout their entire lives. All advances that will spare these victims should be pursued diligently and as timely as possible.

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November 18, 2011

Researcher Working on New Ways to Study Tissue Related Birth Defects

JPost News reported this week on exciting new medical developments that may shape the future of research aimed at learning more about birth injuries and defects. The March of Dimes Foundation recently awarded the Basil O’Connor Starter Scholar Award to a biomedical engineering professor working on a new approach to tissue development that may have important ramifications into understanding how certain tissue-related birth defects arise. The work of Tufts University’s School of Engineering professor Catherine K. Kuo looks at orthopedic birth defects that occur in the mother’s womb. Clubfoot is a common version of these problems, and it results from an abnormal musculoskeletal development in the embryo. Clubfoot usually requires significant surgeries before the child is able to stand and walk.

Specifically, the work includes use of engineered embryonic tendon tissue to simulate muscle movement in the embryo to determine how that movement might affect the fetus’s development. The hope is that researchers will be able to determine if certain actions, like kicking, somehow affect that tissue development adversely. Dr. Kuo explains that the current knowledge about how muscle activity affects birth defects is minimal. The tendon will be used as a model to advance that study because the tendon plays a critical role in normal musculoskeletal systems.

The engineered muscle will be done via use of chick and mouse embryos. These engineered tendons will then be inserted into a porous biodegradable synthetic scaffold which itself will be placed in a nutrient-filled bioreactor. The scaffolding will then grow into living engineered tissue. These elaborate efforts are necessary to simulate the growth of tissue in a developing child. As Dr. Kuo notes, “It’s very difficult to study developing tissue, in this case, tendon, inside the body, and especially in utero.” That difficulty has made it essentially uncharted territory—a state that will hopefully change pending development of this line of research.

At an initial level, this new research will hopefully explain how developing tissue stiffness affects cells and how movement in utero (like kicking) affects that development. At a functional level, once researchers understand how the stiffness and movement affect development, they can begin strategizing ways to intervene when necessary to influence the movement and stiffness in an effort to prevent harmful consequences. Long-term, the doctor explains, the intervention may actually involve removing the involved cells, treating them in a bioreactor to behave normally, and then reinserting them into the fetus to help develop normal tissue function. These goals are clearly a long ways off, but as with all promising research, the steps are in place now that may ultimately lead down that road of complete prevention of a complicated birth defect.

Many birth defects that develop early on in a pregnancy are very difficult to predict or prevent. Unlike many birth injuries that arise because of failures on the part of the involved medical team to respond to problems, our Chicago injury lawyers know that many of these tissue development problems are completely unpreventable with our current level of knowledge. Hopefully this research and similar efforts will slowly change that, helping expectant mothers and medical professionals actually prevent these complications from affecting children in the future.

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November 6, 2011

New State Review Finds Birth Injury Deaths Are Often Preventable

A new study reported on late this week by the Journal Democrat has found troubling new information which reveals that nearly 20% of deadly birth injuries could have been prevented in the area. The statistic was produced following the review of a study conducted by the state’s Child Death Review Team. The body examined death records of 551 deaths that occurred in 2007 and 2008. The medical professionals on the review panel found that nearly 165 of those deaths were preventable.

Overall, the review found that nearly one-third of all deaths of children of all ages are related to birth injuries and complications. Premature birth was the leading cause of death among this group. Premature births can occur in many contexts, from separation of the placenta from the wall of the uterus (placental abruption) and infections of the placental tissue to a weakening of the cervix. Birth injuries were also a significant cause of death according to the survey. The most common include chromosome abnormalities, neural tube defects, and heart defects.

The medical professionals involved in the review found that a wide range of factors can prevent these deaths. For example, neural tube defects can almost always be prevented if the mother takes folic acid sufficiently. Also, medical professionals must be sure to act appropriately during complex births, as failure to take reasonable medical action often results in deadly injuries that could have been prevented. As the chair of the review team explained, “the education of parents and the involvement of communities and health care providers can make a big difference in reducing the number of preventable deaths.”

The team suggests that pregnant women, their health providers, and the community at large should engage in a comprehensive prevention program to ensure safer deliveries. That includes analysis of the signs and symptoms of preterm labor. Our Illinois birth injury lawyers fully support better integration of inclusive communication between pregnant women and their doctors. In many cases, if patients and doctors had better communication regarding potential problems and symptoms, then more mistakes are caught ahead of time, before they develop into serious injury.

Sadly, in some situations there is nothing that the expecting mother can do to prevent the harm. For example, in the middle of childbirth, it is obviously appropriate for the family to rely on the professional advice of their medical professional on major decisions—such as whether or not a C-section need be performed. When the family’s reliance on the medical professional is misplaced, resulting in harm, then the justice system allows the family to receive compensation for that harm. If you or your family is in this situation, please get in touch with our Chicago injury lawyers to share your story and see how we can help. We have decades of experience helping families in this situation. You can learn about the law in this area by visiting our office for a free consultation. We work on a contingency basis with all families, so that you do not have to pay anything to have our professional assistance guiding your case to a timely, fair resolution.

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November 5, 2011

Zoloft Birth Injury Lawsuit Filed After Infants Die

It goes without saying that pregnant women must be particularly mindful of everything that they put into their bodies when they are expecting. Obviously parents want to do everything in their power to ensure their child is born healthy and does not fall victim to a birth injury or birth defect. Part of the way that parents seek to ensure the well-being of their new addition is by following the advice of doctors and other professionals. Many are specifically trained and compensated to help parents through this process, both when the mother is pregnant and during the birth of the child. Parents cannot be faulted for listening to professional advice. Our Chicago birth injury lawyers know that at time those doctors fail to act reasonably, causing severe harm, and resulting in Illinois birth injury lawsuits.

Unfortunately, negligent medical professionals are not the only ones who occasionally let patients down and cause severe harm. For example, according to About Lawsuits, a new Zoloft wrongful death suit was filed by a family after their infant was born with a heart defect and died shortly after her birth. According to documents filed in the suit, the couple is alleging that the maker of the antidepressant drug Zoloft is responsible for the death of their child. The family alleges that the expectant mother took the drug while pregnant after it was prescribed to her. She claims that the drug led to problems in the baby’s development.

The infant was diagnosed with a string of problems including: Tatralogy of Falot, truncus arteriosus, strial septal defect, confluent branch pulmonary arteries, and several others. In total, the heart developmental problems were too much for the baby to overcome and she died the day after she was born. The family claims that all of those problems were side effects of Zoloft and, that the company knew these birth defects could be caused by the drug.

Court documents filed by the plaintiff states that Pfizer knew about the risks presented by Zoloft when given to expectant mothers. The family claims that the company had data for years which pointed to the dangers presented by the drug but did not to protect the unsuspecting patients who were given the drug. This latest suit is not the first to suggest that Pfizer failed to act appropriately. Many other families have filed similar suits as of late. At the heart of each of them are claims that the large pharmaceutical company did not adequately warn pregnant mothers about the risks.

Zoloft is a popular antidepressant drug that has been in use since the early 1990s to treat depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and anxiety. In fact, it remains the most prescribed antidepressant in the country. It is part of a commonly used (and often abused) class of drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). If you have suspicions that this drug has caused harm to you or a child that suffered a birth injury, be sure to get in touch with a legal professional in your area to discover if it is appropriate to pursue legal action.

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Hypothermia Treatment for Lack of Oxygen Birth Injuries

Illinois Birth Injury Lawsuit Settles for Over $15 Million

October 26, 2011

New Research Links Another Pesticide to Birth Defects

Some causes of birth defect are difficult to precisely root out. It often takes years of careful analysis, clear sighted research, and close scrutiny before conclusive statements can be made about a particular cause of certain medical problems. However, once that cause has been found, it is incumbent upon all those in a position to do something about it to actually take action. Similarly, even if research is still being conducted to more clearly support a certain conclusion, those involved can take preventative measure to properly account for the risks that a certain product, action, or circumstance can affect the proper development of a child.

For example, this weekend Max Health discussed new research which is leading many scientists to conclude that a wide range of environmental pollutants increase the chance that children will be born some medical problems, such as autism. The new data was released jointly by researchers based out of the University of Texas and Peking University. Many scientists involved believe that the soon there will be enough data to show that autism is primarily caused by environmental pollutants alone. For decades experts have been searching to determine the precise causes of a variety of problems affecting children from birth like autism.

This latest study did not focus solely on autism. In addition, those involved examined incident rates of spina bifida and anencephaly. Both problems are related to neural tube defects. Spina bifidia results from a lack of fusion of the spinal cord while anencephaly leads to absence of part of the brain. Children can live for a time with spina bifida, though most infants born with anencephaly typically die at birth. In this latest study, researchers examined of a wide range of birth defects on their potential connection to parental exposure to certain nearby pollutants. Researchers measured mothers based on a variety of factors, including their proximity to sites with known high pollution levels and measurements in their placenta for high concentration of two pesticides—endosulfan and lindane.

Overall, researchers found a strong link between exposure to these pollutants and incidents of spina bifida and anencephaly. The two pollutants measured here had been used in the United States for years. However, both have very recently been banned. Endosulfan is an organochlorine pesticide similar to DDT. Lindane is still used to treat lice and scabies, but it can no longer be used for agricultural purposes.

Our Illinois birth defect attorney knows that this and similar research may have important effects on future birth injury lawsuits related to these toxins. As the lead researcher in the study explained, “we’ve suspected for a while that some of these pollutants are related to an increase in birth defects, but we haven’t always had to evidence to show it.” With the evidence building, more options may be open for those whose families have been victimized by exposure to these products. We urge all those in our area who suspect that outside products may have been involved in a birth defect, to contact our office to learn how the legal system may allow them to receive compensation for the losses that they have suffered as a result of the injury.

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Family Awarded $4.5 Million Following Birth Injury Lawsuit

October 14, 2011

Many Families File Depakote Birth Defect Lawsuits

News continues to roll in on the dangers that certain types of medications pose to those who are expecting children or plan to have children. Our Chicago birth injury attorneys have recently shared a plethora of information on antidepressants and the way that they may cause Illinois birth injuries. The continuous stream of information about these causes of birth defects should act as even more of a motivation for all expectant mothers. It is important that they be particularly careful about the medications and products and understanding how they may affect the development of their unborn children.

Yesterday we discussed how Paxil birth injury lawsuits were still being filed by those whose young children suffered because they were prescribed the antidepressant medication while pregnant. Just this week Web Wire discussed another medication that has caused a variety of problems for mothers and their babies—Depakote. The drug is given to treat bipolar disorder, but it can have severe consequences when given to pregnant woman, especially in their first three months of pregnancy. If an expecting mother takes the drug in that time, their child has a 1 in 20 chance of being born with a birth defect. Those are frighteningly high odds that should put all mothers on notice.

The dangers posed by the drug led the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to issue an alert about the drug’s dangers, warning those who take the drugs of the potential consequences if they are planning a pregnancy. As news of the dangers spread, many Depakote lawsuits were filed by families whose children were affected because they unknowingly took the drug in the first three months of their pregnancy. As part of the lawsuits the plaintiff argued that the company which manufactured the drug—Abbott—knew ahead of time about these dangers posed by the drug. The victims allege that even though they had this knowledge they did nothing to warn patients.

Depakote was developed by Abbott in 1978 to treat a variety of problems including epileptic seizures and mania episodes of those with bipolar disorder. Researchers have found that mothers who take the drug early in their pregnancy have a much higher chance of their children developing problems like cleft palate, spina bifidia, polydactyly, hypospadias, atrial septal defect, and other complications. On top of that, new research recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine has found that Depakote may cause children to lower a child’s IQ.

The Illinois birth defect lawyers at our firm help families whose children have been hurt at birth. At first most families are not sure of all of the factors that have led to the problem. However, after investigation into the matter it often is the case that the birth defect was preventable if only those who were involved in their care had acted reasonably. In those cases, it is fair and logical for the young child’s rights to be protected through use of the civil justice system. Please contact our office if you suspect that you or a loved one has been harmed by this drug or other childbirth errors.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Birth Accident Lawsuit Reveals Extreme Emotional Pain Associated with Loss

Birth Injury Lawsuit Filed After Child Born with Cerebral Palsy

August 25, 2011

Taking Diflucan During Pregnancy Linked To Birth Injuries

Our Illinois birth injury attorneys learned that the United States Food and Drug Administration recently issued a warning that the drug Diflucan has been linked to birth injuries in a number of cases where the mother was taking the drug while she was pregnant. Diflucan is a drug that is often used to treat yeast infections in patients and sometimes used to treats a certain type of meningitis in patients. The birth defects that have been associated with using Diflucan were found to be present, if at all, if taken during the first trimester of the pregnancy and included physical developmental issues, bone development issues, and heart problems. While the FDA did issue a warning against taking this drug during pregnancy, according to FDA’s website, if the drug was prescribed for a very serious condition that a doctor should be consulted to see if staying on the medicine or coming off the medicine will be best for the mother and baby. The reason that it is important to consult with a doctor is that there does not appear to be risk associated with a single low dose of the medicine, so a doctor may still recommend that a pregnant person take one small dosage if they deem it necessary for the mother for her and the baby’s overall health.

All doctors should be aware of the dangers of prescribing Diflucan, or other drugs that are linked to birth defects, to pregnant patients. If a doctor fails to realize that the drug being prescribed may be dangerous, or if the doctor fails to warn the pregnant mother of the dangers associated with taking the medication during pregnancy, that doctor may be held liable if the baby is born with a birth defect or a birth injury. Often times taking drugs known to be linked with birth defects affect the way in which the baby is developing during the pregnancy and may cause the baby to be born with severe developmental problems.

The reason that our birth injury attorneys want to remind all pregnant women of the importance of the doctor exercising the highest level of care with all patients is because this type of birth injury is completely preventable if the doctor does not act negligently. By either not prescribing certain medications to pregnant patients, or making sure that the patient is completely aware of the risk associated with taking a certain medication, the doctor can help eliminate this type of terrible tragedy.

If you or a loved one was prescribed a drug that has been associated with birth defects, and that drug was prescribed to you by your doctor and the doctor failed to warn you of the dangers associated with the drug, you may have a birth injury lawsuit against the doctor for their negligence. If at the time that the drug was taken, there was no published or known information regarding a connection between the drug and birth injuries, you may have a potential personal injury lawsuit against the manufacturer of the medication. In any case, if you were an expecting mother and were prescribed a drug that led to birth injuries to your baby, please contact our personal injury law firm today to discuss what possible options may be available to you and your family.

August 19, 2011

Newer Anti-Seizure Medications Found to Not be Linked to Birth Injury

Our Illinois birth injury attorneys have unfortunately seen many cases of birth injuries related to the taking of a drug by a mother during pregnancy, that her doctor either did not warn her could cause birth defects or that the company did not warn doctors could cause birth defects. Often times the birth injury that results from taking the drug while pregnant is one that would not have been present if the doctor responsible for the mother and unborn baby's health had not prescribed the drug to the pregnant mother. Two of the most common drugs that have been linked to a high frequency of birth injuries, if the mother is taking the drug during her pregnancy, are Depakote and Topamax, both of which are drugs designed to reduce the number of epileptic seizures for patients taking these drugs. While these drugs do work well for patients with epilepsy in helping to control their seizures, the drugs have been found in many cases be very dangerous to an unborn baby, and as many as one out of every five babies born while the mother was taking one of these anti-seizure medications were born with birth defects.

The birth defects associated with these anti-seizure drugs range from spina bifida (when the baby's spinal cord does not develop properly) to problems with limb development and problems with skull and brain development. Since these drugs have recently been linked to these birth defects many families who had babies while prescribed this medication have filed a birth injury lawsuit against both the manufacturing companies and the doctors who prescribed the drugs to the mothers.

Researchers have found that some of the newer anti-seizure drugs do not seem to cause birth defects in babies if the mother is taking them during pregnancy. According to About Lawsuits, the two newer anti-seizure drugs that were studied in connection with birth defects were Trileptal and Lamictal, and no connection was found between using these drugs during pregnancy and an increase in birth defects. The reason that this news is so important is that epileptic patients that are pregnant may now have a safe alternative that allows them to continue their medication to prevent seizures while also making sure that their baby does not suffer a birth injury while taking the medication.

These newer anti-seizure drugs not causing birth defects are also great news for pregnant epileptic women because the risk of not taking any anti-seizure medication during pregnancy is not only a danger to the mother but could be dangerous to the baby as well. The mother having a seizure during pregnancy could be dangerous to the baby's health and development as well as to the mother, so it would be best if there was an option for the mother to be able to take an anti-seizure medication that would also be safe to her unborn baby.

Most mothers would not have chosen to have taken one of the now known anti-seizure drugs that have been found to have a strong correlation to birth injuries had they known of the dangers. However, most mothers that were prescribed the drugs linked to birth injuries were unaware that there was any danger associated with the drug and trusted their doctors to not prescribe them something that would endanger their baby. Whether it was the doctor or the drug company's negligence that led to these avoidable birth injuries to all of these babies, the families are entitled to compensation for all that they have suffered as a result of another's negligence. If you or a loved one has given birth to a baby that suffered birth defects likely a result of an anti-seizure medication being prescribed during pregnancy, please do not hesitate to contact our personal injury law firm today to see what options are available to you.

August 17, 2011

Illinois Family Files Lawsuit Against Depakote Manufacturers

Our Chicago birth injury attorneys recently read about an injury lawsuit that was filed by an Illinois family in which the family alleges that the health problems that their twin babies were born with were a result of the mother being prescribed Depakote during pregnancy. This is a common drug given to patients to try to reduce the frequency of epileptic seizures, but has been linked to spina bifida birth defects when taken by pregnant patients. Spina bifida is a birth defect in which the baby's spinal cord is not fully formed and stays open and fused. Babies born with this type of birth injury often face a lifetime of disability and suffer through a lot pain throughout their life as a result of this birth injury.

The injury lawsuit was filed on behalf of both of the couple's twin daughters, since both babies were born with spina bifida allegedly caused by the taking of Depakote. The family filed the lawsuit naming the drug manufacturer as defendant for failure to warn the doctors or the patients of the dangers of taking the medication during pregnancy. The mother of the twin girls says that she would not have chosen to take the anti-seizure medication if she had known what the risks to her babies would have been and because there was no warning associated with the drug, she did take the medication and the twin girls suffered birth injuries as a result.

According to About Lawsuits, not only spina bifida has been linked to Depakote as a possible birth injury, but babies have also been born with other birth defects after the mother took this drug such as cleft palates, problems with skull development, problems with limb development, holes in the heart, urinary tract infections, and cognitive impairments. While spina bifida is often times most commonly with this drug, these other birth injuries have been linked to Depakote as well.

The manufacturers of Depakote have faced many injury lawsuits in recent years, and the FDA added a warning in 2006 that as many as 20% of women who were taking the drug while pregnant gave birth to a baby that had either spina bifida or the other birth defects that have been associated with Depakote. More recently researchers have discovered that Depakote can do serious damage early on in the pregnancy and that the first 28 days of the pregnancy are likely when the drug is most dangerous to the baby. Often times a woman may not know they are pregnant early on and because of this severe damage is often already done to the baby before the mother is able to stop using the drug. As a result of this problem, doctors need to be very cautious about prescribing Depakote to women who are trying to become or are in a position to become pregnant.

If you or a loved one gave birth to a baby with birth defects and was prescribed Depakote during your pregnancy without any warnings of the possible dangers to the baby, please contact our Illinois personal injury lawyers today to talk to a birth injury attorney about what the birth injury that has occurred and what options may be available to you or your family.

August 13, 2011

Cooling Caps May Help Brain Injuries at Birth

Unfortunately birth injuries are far more frequent than one might realize and often times occur because of negligence on the part of the doctor or the hospital and could be avoided if the proper care was taken. Our birth injury attorneys realize that many of the birth injuries that they see are a result not of the baby having complications during pregnancy but rather there being a problem during delivery. According to Todays THV, two out of every three babies that are born at full-term experience some degree of oxygen loss related to the umbilical cord cutting off their air supply or by another type of problem during the birthing process. If this happens and the problem that is causing the lack of oxygen is taken care of immediately, or if the doctor realizes that the baby in distress as they are delivering the baby and act accordingly, the doctor can hopefully fix the problem before any serious or permanent damage to the newborn baby occurs.

Birth injuries caused by a lack of oxygen to the baby during birth can end up causing serious damage if the baby is without oxygen for a long enough period of time. The lack of oxygen can cause severe brain damage and can seriously impair the baby’s developmental abilities and can even lead to death. Cerebral palsy is condition that babies sometimes develop at birth when they suffer from a lack of oxygen, and this condition often involves a great deal of developmental problems or delays that can last throughout the baby’s lifetime. However, while oxygen deprivation at birth may unfortunately be rather common, a serious injury can often be avoided if the birth doctor realizes the problem and acts immediately to restore oxygen to the baby.

One interesting way in which a birth injury due to a lack of oxygen can be helped is through the use of a “cooling cap” which can be used for babies that suffer from a temporary deprivation of oxygen to the entire brain at birth (as opposed to a lack of oxygen to a portion of the brain). This method requires that either the baby’s entire body or head is kept cool for at least 72 hours and then the baby is taken off of the ventilator and re-warmed. This process may help with damage caused from the temporary lack of oxygen to the entire brain and has been found to work on a number of babies that have suffered from this type of birth injury.

While there are certain things that can be done to try to reduce or protect against severe brain injury after birth, all of the methods require that the doctor is immediately aware that there is a problem and act quickly to try to limit the damage to the baby. If during the birthing process or immediately after the birthing process you feel that the doctor that delivered your baby did not act using the utmost care or in some way acted negligently, please contact our Illinois personal injury attorneys to discuss what options may be available for you and your family.

August 11, 2011

Report Finds Recent Rise in C-Section Births

Chicago birth injury attorneys from our office recently read an article in USA Today, that found that as of 2009, the number of C-sections had grown to 34 percent, up from 27 percent in 2002. A report has shown that there are various reasons for the increase in C-sections including that they are more convenient for both the mothers and the doctors since the time of the birth is planned, they are used for multiple births (which have also increased in recent years), they are often used when the mother has certain risk factors, and that more women have started to request them.

C-sections, which is the nickname that is often given to caesarean deliveries, are a method of delivering a baby in which an incision is made in the mother’s stomach and the baby is removed as opposed to the baby being born vaginally. C-sections are intended to be used when a vaginal delivery would put either mother or baby at risk to reduce the risk of birth injuries in a number of cases. However, many doctors caution that C-sections are only to be used when necessary to protect the mother or the baby, and that they are becoming too much of default procedure because doctors fear birth malpractice lawsuits.

The reason that a C-section may not be the best choice is that they have certain risks that can occur with them as well. The number one reason that doctors worry about performing C-sections for convenience is that they cut the full term of the pregnancy down, and it is very important for a baby to go to full term if there are no serious complications with the pregnancy. In the last month the baby’s lungs, brain and kidneys finish developing and therefore this is not something that short be cut short when it does not need to be.

Additionally, a C-section is a surgical procedure and carries with it the risk for infection, anesthesia errors, and other surgical errors. In order to reduce these risks, a mother should choose vaginal birth if they are low-risk for complications.

If you believe that your physician acted negligently in performing a C-section and these mistakes caused injury to your baby, please do not hesitate to contact our Illinois personal injury attorneys immediately to discuss what possible options are available to you and to your family.

August 9, 2011

Video Cameras Banned in Hospital Room During Delivery?

Our Chicago birth injury attorneys were interested to learn that some hospitals have started banning the use of video cameras in hospital delivery rooms. At this point in time the decision whether or not to allow video cameras in hospital delivery rooms is up to each individual hospital and there is no national standard in place dealing with the issue. Some hospitals that are banning video cameras in the delivery room say that the reason for not allowing the video cameras in the room is strictly to insure the safety of the mother and baby during delivery and to help protect the privacy of the delivery staff. Some of the hospitals that ban video cameras in the room during the birth do allow video cameras to be used shortly after birth when the medical staff gives the family permission to use the camera to the family.

While it is important to ensure the mother and baby’s safety first and foremost, and any videotaping that interferes with safety seems reasonable to restrict, many new parents are upset with these new policies and feel that the whole birthing experience is diminished by not being able to capture it on film. According to the New York Times, one doctor said that with all the current technology and ability to film he feels that the room becomes too overwhelming and that he is unable to fully focus on his job. While a doctor’s full focus and care is a very important part of the birthing process, it seems interesting that this is just starting to become an issue now when video cameras have been used in delivery rooms for many years.

Birth videos have recently started to be used as evidence in medical malpractice cases that have to do with birth injury lawsuits. Because birth videos were taken often times right when a medical mistake or problem occurs it is no surprise that many parents are using them as evidence when alleging that the doctor performing the birth was negligent or failed to give the proper care and attention necessary for the birth of the baby. While it makes since that the video cameras should maybe not be allowed in the room if they are distracting the doctor, it seems interesting that video cameras may not be allowed in order to protect a doctor from liability. All doctors should act with the utmost care and attention during each birth and should not be acting any differently if there is a video camera present.

While understanding every hospital’s decision and reasoning behind choosing to ban video cameras is not something that is completely clear, the most important thing to make sure is that the baby and the mother are given complete attention and the best possible care available, but also weighing the importance of being able to document the baby’s first moments for the families.

Whether it was on video or not, any doctor that acted negligently or irresponsibly during the birth of a child should be held accountable for their actions. If you believe that a negligent healthcare provider is responsible for your child's injury, please do no hesitate to contact our Illinois personal injury law firm today to discuss what type of actions and compensation may be available to you and your family.

August 3, 2011

Family Receives $1.3 Million Dollars in Brachial Plexus Birth Injury Lawsuit

Our Chicago birth injury attorneys just read about a recent birth injury lawsuit that resulted in an award of $1.3 million dollars for a couple whose baby was injured during birth as a result of the baby’s shoulders getting stuck during the delivery process. The lawsuit alleged that the doctor that delivered the baby negligently failed to notice that the baby’s shoulders were stuck and the doctor then used too much force to get the baby out, which resulted in permanent shoulder injuries to the baby. According to About Lawsuits, at trial evidence was presented which showed that the baby, who is now almost five years old, has limited use of one of her arms as a result of the birth injury. The young girl also has to undergo physical therapy on a regular basis in order to make sure the shoulder injury does not get worse over time. The judgment included damages not only for the medical bills, but also for the young girl’s future lost earnings, the pain and suffering the family has experienced, and the loss of family consortium (which means the loss of the family relationship that would have be expected had it not been for the negligent acts of another person).

This type of injury is a common birth injury and is commonly referred to as a brachial plexus injury, shoulder dystocia or Erb’s palsy. The brachial plexus is a nerve bundle connecting a person’s spinal cord to their shoulder, arm, and hand. During child birth, when a baby’s shoulders are stuck in the wrong position, or against the mother’s pubic bone, the doctor needs to be very careful during delivery and very aware of what is happening with the baby at all times during the delivery so the doctor can adjust the position of the baby so as not to damage the nerves and permanently damage the baby’s shoulder functioning. If proper care is not taken and the doctor tries to pull too forcefully on the baby to get them out, the doctor may case severe damage to the baby’s brachial plexus nerves.

While physical therapy and occupational therapy can help with a brachial plexus injury, the best way to prevent these types of injuries is for a doctor to realize that the baby’s shoulder is stuck and try to adjust the baby’s position before the damage is done. According to the United Brachial Plexus Network, nearly all brachial plexus birth injuries are preventable as long as proper delivery techniques are used. Unfortunately, since doctors do not always take the proper precautions around 2-3 births out of every 1000 result in an injury to a baby’s brachial plexus nerves. Given that this many babies are injured in this manner during child birth and that it is such a preventable injury, it is crucial that all doctors helping out at birth are aware of this problem and are extremely careful during delivery.

If you or a loved one gave birth to a baby who suffered a brachial plexus injury during birth, and you believe that the doctor handling the birth failed to take the necessary precautions, please call our birth injury attorneys today. Our Chicago personal injury law firm has helped families all over Illinois receive the compensation that they deserve for what they have had to suffer through as a result of the birth doctor’s negligence that led to their baby suffering from a brachial plexus injury.

August 1, 2011

Still Birth Believed to Be Caused by Hospital Staff Missing Warning Signs

Our Chicago birth injury attorneys recently reard about a case in which a baby was still born and the mother filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the hospital, alleging that the hospital staff’s negligence contributed to the baby's death. According to Mercury News, an autopsy was done shortly after the baby passed away and the autopsy found that the baby died of an amniotic fluid infection, which alone does not automatically point to hospital staff negligence. However, shortly after the still birth the hospital fired multiple nurses and required several other nurses to undergo additional training suggesting that the hospital new that there had been at least some negligence on their part. Additionally, following the stillbirth the California Department of Health cited the hospital for failure to follow necessary procedures and stated in their report that the hospital staff’s actions did contribute to the baby dying.

Some of the findings of the Department of Health were that the only nurse present during the epidural was not trained to read the fetal heart monitor, that when the heart monitor was not detecting a heart rate the doctor was not notified immediately, and that no other measures were taken to detect a heart rate when the monitor was not finding one. This evidence suggests that had the hospital properly monitored the mother and baby that they would have seen that the baby was in distress because of the infection and hopefully been able to save the baby.

The hospital responded to these findings by the Department of Health by claiming that they would implement measures to make sure that this type of terrible incident does not happen again, but also blamed the nurses for failing to follow the rules the hospital already had in place. Many of the nurses involved in the firings claim that the hospital fired people that were not even involved in order to show the state that they were reacting to what had happened. While it is important that any hospital where something like this happens to make changes, it is crucial that the changes are ones that will actually make sure that this will never happen again and not just fire people to make it look like they are taking action.

Unfortunately, many birth injuries are the result of hospital staff negligence and failure to take the appropriate measures that are required during birth. These procedures are in place to hopefully help quickly detect and fix any problem that could come up during child birth before it becomes a dangerous problem. There is a growing concern that when hospitals become overcrowded that patients may not always receive the care and attention necessary by the hospital staff because of how busy they are. However, terrible incidents such as this serve as a reminder to how important taking the time and following procedure is with each and every patient.

If you or a loved one have given birth and feel that the hospital did not take the necessary and proper precautions to insure that the baby was delivered safely, please contact our birth injury attorneys right away. Our Chicago based law firm has helped out clients all over Illinois with their birth injury lawsuits, and we have helped them receive compensation for all they have suffered through as a result of someone else’s negligent or careless actions.

July 22, 2011

Reports Show Large Babies Face Increased Risks for Birth Injuries

Recently, our Chicago birth injury attorneys read about a 16-pound baby born to a woman in Texas. While the majority of onlookers reveled in the newborn's cute and happy photos, it is important to note that there are a number of dangers to both mother and child surrounding an infant with macrosomia (a newborn with an excessive birth weight). Macrosomia is a serious condition often linked with birth injuries such as shoulder dystocia. In addition, babies who are born with Macrosomia are subject to increased risks in the development of asthma, cancer, diabetes, allergies and life-long struggles with obesity.

There are a number of reasons as to why some babies are born with a high birth weight. Some babies are born large because their parents are large people. Some babies are large because they are born after their due date. Hispanic women have an increased chance of delivering overweight children when compared with other races. While these risk factors cannot be prevented, there are a number of others that can be. According to a board-certified OB/GYN on the Daily Beast Health Blog, the “three most significant risks for having an overweight baby are… obesity prior to getting pregnant, excessive weight gain during pregnancy, and uncontrolled diabetes.”

Because of the increased risks in child birth that overweight babies present, it is important that physicians identify the size of a child before his or her birth and to take the necessary precautions in preventing birth injuries when it is known that a baby will be born with macrosomia. If physicians do not follow proper practice in these instances they may be subject to medical malpractice liability.

One of the many concerns that need to be dealt with in the delivery of an overweight child is the possibility of shoulder dystocia. Shoulder dystocia occurs when a mother is able to deliver the head of her child, but the body gets stuck in the mother’s birth canal. When this happens a baby has a high chance of developing nerve damages or other serious injuries including the possibility of death. The chances of delivering a baby with shoulder dystocia are greatly increased for babies that are delivered with macrosomia.

Our Chicago birth-Injury lawyers recognize the difficulty that delivering overweight babies presents. Since our practice was founded, we have represented a number of families in cases involving birth injuries like shoulder dystocia during a macrosomic birth. In one of these cases, our client's physicians failed to perform an ultrasound to determine the size of the baby even though the mother's first child was macrosomic. They also failed to inform the child's mother of the risks associated with delivering a baby of this size or inform her that a c-section was an option to reduce these risks. As a result, our client's daughter suffered a shoulder dystocia and the family pursued a personal injury lawsuit to recover compensation for her injuries and to pay the child's past and future medical care and treatments. We settled the family's shoulder dystocia lawsuit in 2009 for $1.35 million against the negligent physicians and hospital staff that caused her injuries.

July 19, 2011

Study Says C-sections More Common, But May Involve Risks and Complications

The number of deliveries via cesarean section is on the rise, but like any surgical procedure, there are always risks associated with this method. Our Chicago birth injury attorneys recently read an article on the HealthDay page on in which we were surprised to learn that the number of c-sections increased 7% from 2002 to 2009. Although they are often convenient, experts warn that these procedures can be dangerous and should only be performed when necessary to protect the health and well-being of both mothers and babies.

According to the report, the rise in the number of cesareans is a result of a number of factors. For one, many mothers and physicians appreciate the convenience of knowing when the child will be delivered. There is also an increase in the number of older women giving birth and those suffering from diabetes and obesity, so physicians may choose c-sections to avoid birth injuries or other complications during delivery. The article also notes that many women may not fully understand the risks associated with cesarean surgery.

As with any surgery, there are a number of potentially serious complications associated with c-sections. In our practice, we represent mothers and children who have been injured during the birth process. Although many c-sections are planned, some mothers require emergency cesareans when complications during birth arise. This could be because the baby is not properly descending through the mother’s birth canal or a breech birth. Although when performed in these situations, a c-section is necessary and actually used as a remedy, sometimes they are delayed, in which case the child may suffer birth injuries. Our Illinois birth injury lawyers have represented clients in cases in which a physician’s failure to perform a c-section in a timely manner led to birth injuries, including a recent $6.5 million settlement for a young girl who suffers from cerebral palsy as a result of a delayed c-section.

Surgical errors and complications may occur during both planned and emergency cesareans. This can include anesthesia errors, blood clots, infection, cardiac arrest, perforated or severed bowels, or severe postpartum bleeding. Although in some cases a c-section may be a mother’s best option to minimize risk to her unborn child, due to the serious nature of these complications, it is important for women and their doctors to carefully weigh their options before deciding whether or not to perform a c-section.

June 26, 2011

Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Filed After Pregnancy Complication Leads to Deadly Blood Infection

Without prompt and adequate treatment, pregnancy complications often threaten the life of a mother carrying the child as well as child itself. Illinois birth injury lawyers realize that to protect lives, doctors must properly examine and diagnose pregnant mothers who exhibit signs of infection and provide treatment to prevent the condition from worsening.

An article published recently in the Dallas Morning News shows how a treatable infection can quickly degenerate into deadly septic shock if healthcare providers fail to administer appropriate care. A woman was admitted into the hospital with an 104.8 degree fever and complaining of neck and lower back pain – characteristic signs of an infection. A sonogram showed that the woman had been 17 weeks pregnant, but the baby had died. Rather than removing the fetus immediately to address the infection and without examining the woman, doctors ordered the procedure to be performed the next morning, 16 hours later.

During the intervening hours, the woman’s condition devolved into sepsis, a severe blood infection caused by an infection in another part of the body that can result in blood clotting, multiple organ failure, and death. The woman experienced septic shock and fell into a coma that lasted for three months.

Now the woman must receive dialysis three times a week, is on the waiting list for a kidney transplant, and has suffered two strokes, brain surgery, blood clots, liver damage, a partial hysterectomy, and heart surgery. The family filed a medical malpractice lawsuit seeking redress for this pain and suffering and to cope with over $3 million in medical bills accrued so far. The hospital could have avoided all of these afflictions had the staff met the standard of care and recognized the severity of the woman’s condition on that first night.

Our Chicago medical malpractice attorneys have represented families who suffer when their attending physicians fail to properly diagnose and treat pregnancy complications. In June 2009, we settled a case for $5.35 million on behalf of a daughter whose mother died after her physician failed to diagnose and provide timely treatment for her postpartum cardiomyopathy. The mother arrived in the emergency room with complaints of shortness of breath and chest pain. She was not boarded in the ICU and was improperly treated in the emergency room for pneumonia, worsening her heart failure. She died 15 hours later.

Continue reading "Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Filed After Pregnancy Complication Leads to Deadly Blood Infection" »

June 14, 2011

Medical Malpractice: The sad case of shoulder dystocia

Our Chicago birth injury attorneys often receive troubling calls from heartbroken parents describing incidents of shoulder dystocia. According to a recent article from, shoulder dystocia is a birth complication often associated with, but not limited to pregnant women with diabetes. Shoulder dystocia occurs when a child’s head is delivered, but the shoulders of the child are unable to pass through the birth canal. When this occurs, the child is immediately in jeopardy of suffering serious birth injuries or even death. According to the report, sometimes doctors are able to avoid injury by quickly repositioning the child, but others aren’t so lucky.

Shoulder dystocia is one of the most dangerous birth complications. Once the head of a baby is delivered, significant strain is placed on the umbilical cord. In a typical childbirth setting this is not a problem because of the relatively short period of time between delivery of a baby’s head and shoulders. In shoulder dystocia cases, however, the prolonged stress often leads to permanent injuries.

John Perconti filed a lawsuit against Evanston Hospital in 2005 for complications suffered by Denise Juarez when the birth complication of shoulder dystocia caused her to ultimately suffer from Erb’s palsy, which is the weakness or loss of movement caused by damage to the nerve bundles at one’s shoulders.

While some cases involving shoulder dystocia can not be predicted, many others can, and failing to diagnose a fetus with a high propensity of suffering a shoulder dystocia is medical malpractice. In the case of Denise, the facility was negligent in a number of ways. The staff failed to perform an ultrasound prior to delivering Denise to determine her size, given the fact that Denise’s mother had previously delivered a large baby. Additionally, the staff failed to inform Denise’s mother of her increased risk for shoulder dystocia and failed to offer a Caesarean section as an option to reduce these risks. Finally, during delivery, the labor and delivery team failed to perform the proper disimpaction techniques, and the doctors applied excessive force causing Denise’s permanent nerve damage.

John and the rest of the birth injury lawyer team at Levin and Perconti, using their knowledge gained over many years practicing in the area, were able to settle Denise’s case for $1.3 million dollars. This money will help provide Denise the care and treatment necessary to live a more normal life.

May 27, 2011

Mother settles malpractice birth injury lawsuit for millions

According to a report on, a mother received a birth injury settlement of $7 million after her child was born with a severe genetic disorder. The birth injury lawsuit was filed against four medical professionals in Massachusetts. The obstetrician, nurse practitioner, geneticist, and genetic counselor failed to inform the mother of genetic tests available to determine if the then unborn child had a genetic disorder. The testing during the pre-natal treatment would have clearly revealed the severe genetic disorder; the specific disorder is not noted here for privacy purposes.

As noted in the article, although English was not her first language, the mother did her best to convey those wishes. A procedure called amniocentesis was offered during a session, which is a procedure that reveals the entire genetic make-up of the fetus. However a proper translator was not present at that session in violation of the hospital’s medical procedure. Amniocentesis was not offered after that session when a proper translator would have been present.

The child requires constant support and care. The child is currently receiving state- and town-funded care until she turns 21 years old. Only at that time, the settlement money will be available to pay for her care. The settlement will be paid by multiple malpractice insurance providers.

Continue reading "Mother settles malpractice birth injury lawsuit for millions" »

April 15, 2011

Doctors Must Pay Close Attention to Medication Given to Expecting Mothers

The upcoming birth of a child is one of the most exciting yet stressful periods in many families’ lives. It is for that reason that the quality of the medical professionals working with mothers while pregnant and during the birth is of the utmost importance. Families depend on the choices made by those health professionals to guide the pregnancy along and ensure no additional risks of complications develop.

One often overlooked component of that care involves the medications prescribed to the expectant mother. The Wall Street Journal reported recently on expanded concerns about birth complications caused by certain medications given during a pregnancy. For example, earlier this month the Food and Drug Administration issued strong warnings that mothers who take Topamax have an increased risk of giving birth to babies with cleft palates or cleft lips.

That warning is only the latest in a string of similar proclamations by the Administration. Doctors had previously been advised that expectant mothers who take antipsychotic drugs—Haldol, Seroquel, Abilify—are at risk of suffering withdrawal for prolonged periods of time after birth. The asthma drug terbutaline was also shown to risk heart problems (capable of death) in the pregnant mother.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also commented on the subject, noting that pain relievers like Vicodin, OxyContin, and even Tylenol may increase a child’s risk of heart defects, glaucoma, and other issues.

The possible birth injury risks make it imperative that doctors carefully weigh a medication’s possible benefits with the potential harm. Haphazard, routine, and off the cuff medication decisions by a less than thorough physician could have terrible effects on an unborn child’s development and the health of the mother.

Continue reading "Doctors Must Pay Close Attention to Medication Given to Expecting Mothers" »

March 4, 2011

New safety reform at hospital decreases number of annual birth injuries

An east coast hospital has recently developed a comprehensive obstetrics safety program which has drastically reduced hospital errors in the delivery room. According to Crain’s New York Business, the program requires clear documentation of a doctor’s actions even in cases where unfortunate outcomes were not the result of a doctor’s negligent acts. The program then requires doctors to review the reports. The hospital claims that the safety changes made as a result of this program have resulted in a significant drop of birth injuries.

The program has lead to various safety changes throughout the hospital. For example, the labor and delivery unit eliminated its old procedure of communicating patients’ progress with a dry-erase whiteboard. The unit now uses a new electronic application that can be accessed through any Internet browser. The unit has also prohibited paper charting in order to improve communication.

The labor and delivery unit also hired a full-time patient safety nurse to educate staff on new protocols the doctors wanted and to conduct emergency drills. The department also hired three additional physician assistants to reduce the time the other obstetricians needed to be “on call” during their off hours. This change was made after the program showed that doctors tended to make mistakes when they were deprived of sleep.

Our Chicago birth injury attorneys at Levin & Perconti are excited to hear about these new medical developments in safety and patient care. New innovative therapies can help prevent birth injuries. Too often our lawyers have witnessed tragic childbirth situations involving inadequate medical care.

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February 14, 2011

U.S. Hospitals Deliver Babies Too Early, Leading to Increased Risk for Birth Injuries

Researchers at The Leapfrog Group reported that more than 40% of babies born at some hospitals are delivered early for no medical reason. The Leapfrog Group is a hospital-quality watchdog group. Last year, The Leapfrog Group surveyed 773 hospitals and found that thousands of babies were electively scheduled for a delivery before the children were fully developed. Their method of survey was verified and endorsed by the National Quality Forum. Of the 773 hospitals, some hospitals reported 10 times the number of medically unnecessary deliveries when compared to the others. Early delivery puts children at risk for birth-related brain injuries.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) warned that a baby needs at least a completed 39 weeks to develop the brain and other organs. The 39 week benchmark is due to the fact that the brain and other vital organs, such as the lungs, are not completely developed until the last few weeks. Although there are legitimate medical reasons to schedule an early birth, such as broken membranes before labor begins, according to the medical director for the March of Dimes, “a baby’s birth should not be scheduled before 39 weeks of pregnancy, unless their health care provider says it’s medically necessary.”

Early elective delivery doesn’t only put children at risk, it is financially burdensome the new parents. When children are born too early, they must be carefully monitored in the neonatal intensive care unit. According to the March of Dimes, in 2007 the average cost to the parents for a premature birth was $64,713. This is more than four times the average cost of a full-term infant at $15,047. The Leapfrog Group cited a study that estimated about one billion dollars can be saved annually if the rate of early elective deliveries were reduced to only 1.7%.

Continue reading "U.S. Hospitals Deliver Babies Too Early, Leading to Increased Risk for Birth Injuries" »

February 1, 2011

Child Suffers from Cerebral Palsy and Seizures after Alleged Medical Malpractice

According to a lawsuit recently filed by Fiona and Stanley Brown, negligence on the part of Lakeland OB-GYN and Lakeland Regional Medical Center caused their child, Destiny, to be born suffering from cerebral palsy and seizures.

The birth injury lawsuit claims that while Fiona and Stanley were at Lakeland Regional, the fetal monitor strip indicated a decrease in fetal heart rate. At thirty-eight weeks pregnant, Fiona was told that she needed to undergo an emergency Cesarean section.

Lakeland Regional is accused of not providing timely care before Destiny’s birth, not treating the fetal distress quickly enough, not reporting changes in Fiona’s condition to the attending doctor quickly enough, and of delaying the C-section.

Continue reading "Child Suffers from Cerebral Palsy and Seizures after Alleged Medical Malpractice" »

November 22, 2010

New whole-body cooling blanket saves newborn from birth-related brain injuries.

A newborn in California recently received the benefits of an innovative therapy that cools the baby’s body to decrease brain injury. This therapy helps minimize birth-related brain injuries that can cause cerebral palsy, neurological problems and other cognitive delays.

The California newborn had been cut off from oxygen and was beginning to swell after his birth. There is only a small window of opportunity in which the therapy can be beneficiation. Doctors had around six hours to drop the baby’s body temperature to 92.3 degrees, about 6 degrees below normal.

To read more about this newborn’s success with this ground-breaking therapy, please visit The Fresno Bee.

Lower body temperatures have long been known to minimize brain injury. However, doctors have debated about the best method in which to lower a baby’s temperature. Since speed is a critical factor in the therapy’s success, the hospital used a whole-body cooling blanket designed for newborns deprived of oxygen. The blanket system is designed to quickly induce whole-body hypothermia.

A lack of oxygen to the brain causes hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy. When this occurs the brain reacts to the lack of oxygen by swelling. The swelling then cuts off blood supply to the brain. As the body tries to protect the brain other organs such as the kidneys and liver can be damaged as well.

It is important to quickly cool the body in order to prevent damage because the swelling in the brain occurs over several hours before the damage becomes permanent. Lowering the body’s temperature lowers the body’s metabolism, hearth rate, and blood pressure. As a result, the swelling in the brain is reduced.

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November 10, 2010

Mother files wrongful death lawsuit over preventable pregnancy complication

A mother in Harris County, Texas has filed suit against the medical center that was caring for her pregnant daughter. In the lawsuit, the mother alleges that her daughter and her unborn grandbaby died as a result of the medical center’s negligence.

The pregnant woman was first sent to the medical center when she was about 37 weeks pregnant. Her Obstetrician/Gynecologist (OB/GYN) recommended that she go to the medical center because her blood pressure was high. The pregnant woman was soon discharged even though her blood pressure remained high.

A few days later, the pregnant woman returned to the medical center. This time, the pregnant woman was complaining of shortness of breath. She was immediately sent to the emergency room but she remained there for almost three hours without treatment. While she waited in the emergency room, she suffered a life ending cardiac arrest. Although doctors did remove the baby by cesarean-section, the baby did not survive. The baby had suffered from severe lack of oxygen before birth.

It was later discovered that the pregnant woman’s cardio-respiratory arrest was caused by pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH). The lawsuit filed against the medical center further alleges that the emergency room physician failed to properly diagnosis the pregnant woman for this condition.

To read more about this story, please visit the Houston Chronicle.

Although the exact cause of pregnancy-induced hypertension is unknown, there are several risk factors. According to the American Pregnancy Association, first-time mothers, women carrying multiple babies, teenage mothers, and women who have high blood pressure prior to pregnancy are most at risk.

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October 12, 2010

Low Apgar Scores At Birth Linked To Cerebral Palsy

A recent study conducted by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health found that individuals with low Apgar scores at birth were more likely to be later diagnosed with cerebral palsy. The study suggests that the link between low Apgar scores and cerebral palsy is related to the damage caused to the motor control centers of the brain. This damage can occur during pregnancy, during childbirth, or even after birth.

To determine a baby’s Apgar score, the baby's muscle tone, heart rate, muscle reflex, skin coloration, and respiration are evaluated. Each factor is scored on a scale of 0 to 2, with 2 being the best score. The scores are added together and the resulting Apgar score ranges from zero to 10. This test is generally done at one and five minutes after birth, and may be repeated later if the score is and remains low. Scores 3 and below are generally regarded as critically low, 4 to 6 fairly low, and 7 to 10 generally normal.

Cerebral palsy is caused by an injury to the infant’s brain that can occur before, during or shortly after birth. Exposures to radiation and infection during pregnancy have lead to cerebral palsy. Examples of these infections include rubella, cytomegalovirus, herpes, and toxoplasmosis. Asphyxia (lack of oxygen) before birth, hypoxia of the brain, and birth trauma during labor and delivery also cause injury to the infant’s brain, which can lead to cerebral palsy.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 2 to 3 children in 1,000 are affected by brain injuries leading to cerebral palsy. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has estimated that about 800,000 individuals in the United States have cerebral palsy. Babies with cerebral palsy often have an irregular posture and may be born with other birth defects, such as spinal curvature, a small jawbone, or a small head. However, some babies born with cerebral palsy do not show obvious signs and symptoms right after birth.

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September 24, 2010

The Newborn Coalition Advocates For Improved Newborn Health Care

Last week saw the introduction of a new organization committed to protecting the most precious individuals in our communities—our newborn children. The group known as The Newborn Coalition is a collection of advocates who are working to raise awareness of the needs of infant health care.

The statistics highlighting the needs are clear: half a million premature births a year and 28,000 deaths of children under one year old. One in six of those deaths are causedby congenital heart disease. More shocking, however, is the fact that the problem in the United States is in many way getting worse. For the first time in over half a century, the mortality rate for infants is on the rise in the country.

To address the problem, The Newborn Coalition will seek to draw on a wide range of insights from experts in the field, uniting similar organizations to collectively advocate with one voice. The group will work with policymakers on education, innovation, and prevention efforts to systematically improve the care given to young children.

The Executive Director of the new group explains, “The committee’s focus on the newborn ecosystem and applicable research and pilot programs across federal agencies will be valuable in identifying the best possible opportunities to improve health outcomes for the youngest children.”

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July 25, 2010

Canadian Research Warns Obesity Adds Health Risks for Expectant Mothers and Newborn Babies

According to McMaster University researchers who collected information from over one million women in 84 studies, overweight moms-to-be have considerably higher risks of delivering prematurely. This risk increases with the weight of the women.

In the first 28 days of a baby’s life, those born prematurely have the highest risk of illness and death. The complications from premature birth include breathing problems, infections and feeding problems with the ultimate risk being death. The rise of obesity in women has contributed to the rise in cesarean sections, along with an increased rate of birth trauma and delivery room emergencies, including birth injuries.

Pre-eclampsia, which is a condition of pregnancy marked by high blood pressure, is more likely to be found in obese women as are blood clots in the legs and diabetes. According to Canadian statistics, 23%of women are obese, while 29% are overweight. Women aged 25-34, deliver over 60% of Canadian babies every year and their obesity rates have nearly doubled in the past 25 years.

In comparison, in the United States according to The Weight-control Information Network, 49.6% of non-Hispanic black women, 43 % of Hispanic women and 33% of non-Hispanic white women are obese. With these high levels of obesity among American women, one can assume that women in the U.S. share the same risks as those in Canada.

The studies found an increased risk of about 24% of spontaneous preterm birth in the overweight or obese women. Additionally, these women had a 30% greater risk of induced preterm births before 37 weeks (a full-term pregnancy is 40 weeks). In the very obese women, the risk rises to 70 %.

Although doctors are not recommending pregnant women lose a large amount of weight during their pregnancy, these studies stress that women should try to optimize their weight before pregnancy to reduce the risks to the child. Weight loss can remove or lessen some of the risks. Childbirth is a routine procedure, but malpractice does occur and the effects can be devastating. That is why it is crucial for expecting mothers to do whatever they can to reduce the risk of premature birth and complications during labor and delivery. Doing so may help to prevent serious and lifelong birth injuries such as Erb's Palsy or Cerebral Palsy. Birth injury prevention should be an important consideration for all pregnant women.

Continue reading "Canadian Research Warns Obesity Adds Health Risks for Expectant Mothers and Newborn Babies" »

June 29, 2010

Gestational Diabetes and Obesity Linked to Increased Birth Weight in Babies

Parents who suffer from a combination of gestational diabetes (GDM) and obesity have recently been linked to an increased chance of delivering children with macrosomia. Macrosomia, having a very high birth weight, can lead to various birth injuries if not recognized and approached correctly by a patient’s doctor.

A recent investigation reported by Dr. Metzger, M.D., of Northwestern University School of Medicine in Chicago found that obese women had a 13.6% increased chance of delivering a baby with macrosomia compared to women of a healthy weight. If an obese woman then develops gestational diabetes her risk of delivering a macrosomic child is 20.2% above that of a woman of normal weight.

Delivering a baby with a high birth weight takes much more finesse than delivering a baby of normal weight. If a doctor fails to recognize that a baby is macrosomic they may not be able to take the necessary precautions to minimize the risks posed by the delivery. According to Allahyar Jazayeri, M.D. in an article posted by emedicine, attempts at perinatal diagnosis of macrosomia have proven difficult and are often inaccurate so a doctor should always be prepared for the possible complications of macrosomia.

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April 6, 2010

$29.1 Million Verdict for Chicago Birth Injury

The Daily Herald reports that a medical malpractice lawsuit resulted in a $29.1 million verdict for a boy suffering the effects of a severe birth injury. Medical malpractice occurring during the boy’s delivery at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago resulted in the child’s Chicago birth injury and brain damage. The boy is now six years old and suffers from quadriplegia and Cerebral Palsy, disorders that resulted from brain injury during his birth. NBC Chicago explains that a doctor ignored an infection in the mother prior to birth, and failure to treat the infection resulted in the child being born with Cerebral Palsy. As a result of the birth injury, the boy cannot walk, talk, or eat through his mouth.

Cerebral Palsy Information explains that Cerebral Palsy is often caused by brain injury either during pregnancy, during birth or shortly after birth. Several infections during a mother’s pregnancy can severely damage a fetus’ nervous system and result in Cerebral Palsy. Quadriplegia is a form of Cerebral Palsy that affects a child’s arms and legs and causes stiff, permanently contracted muscles.

4MyChild notes that about ten to twenty percent of children with Cerebral Palsy acquired it after birth, while many more children developed it during pregnancy or at birth. Two aspects of long labor send signals to doctors that brain damage can result in a birth injury to a baby. If a baby becomes stuck in the mother’s birth canal without oxygen or a doctor does not deliver the baby within 24 hours of the mother’s water breaking, the baby is at a significantly increased risk for a birth injury. Furthermore, doctors need to pay attention to whether the mother develops a fever during pregnancy because this too can lead to brain damage.

As 4My Child explains, quick action is the key to giving birth to a healthy baby instead of one with serious birth injury consequences like Cerebral Palsy. No child should have to suffer the effects of birth injuries that occurred because of medical malpractice. When medical malpractice does occur, however, and a child suffers the life long consequences of a doctor’s negligence, our Illinois birth injury lawyers are here to help.

April 2, 2010

Doctor’s Failure to Treat Jaundice Causes Baby to Suffer Cerebral Palsy Birth Injury

According to Delaware Online, a Delaware Superior Court jury recently determined that a doctor’s medical malpractice and negligent failure to treat properly treat jaundice caused a newborn baby boy to develop Cerebral Palsy. The jury awarded $6.25 million in damages to the baby’s family. The baby was born without complications, but his mother took him to see the doctor four days later when his appearance turned yellow. The doctor failed to properly treat the jaundice by not testing the baby’s bilirubin level and not doing phototherapy. Had the doctor actually done these tests, the doctor would have found toxic levels of bilirubin in the baby’s system and could have cured the baby very quickly. Instead, the baby’s illness went undiagnosed and untreated until it was too late to reverse the damage done. The baby developed Cerebral Palsy.

March of Dimes explains that Cerebral Palsy is a group of conditions that cause abnormalities in parts of the brain that control muscle movements, and Cerebral Palsy affects a person’s movement, balance and posture. Severe jaundice can cause Cerebral Palsy. Jaundice is a yellowing of the skin and eyes that results in a pigment called bilirubin building up in the bloodstream. When the levels of bilirubin become too high, such as the toxic levels found in the Delaware baby, a baby is at risk for permanent brain damage which leads to Cerebral Palsy. Severe jaundice needs to be treated quickly, such as with special lights and blood transfusions.

The Illinois birth injury attorneys at Levin & Perconti have years of experience representing clients who have suffered birth injuries, including those resulting in Cerebral Palsy. Because Cerebral Palsy leads to lifelong medical expenses and often the need for special medical care, receiving a verdict or settlement can help compensate the families affected by Cerebral Palsy. As explained to Delaware Online, the Delaware baby’s mother was “thankful the award will enable her son to receive the care that he needs”. If you believe your baby has suffered a birth injury or brain injury as a result of the negligence of medical personnel, please contact our Chicago birth injury lawyers to discuss your case.

March 26, 2010

College Student Triumphs Over Cerebral Palsy Birth Injury

As reports, Cerebral Palsy is a group of disorders that can be caused by a birth injury or brain damage later in life, and it results from the brain’s inability to control the body adequately. Cerebral Palsy affects chronic movement and posture, causing stiff or difficult movement, loss of depth perception and balance, and/or involuntary or uncontrolled movements. Approximately 10,000 babies each year in the United States will develop Cerebral Palsy, and it is estimated that 800,000 people in the United States live with the disorder. Of that number, about 2-3 children out of every 1,000 children have Cerebral Palsy.

A York Daily Record interview with Kyle Barnhart, a 19 year old college student, shows that people affected by a Cerebral Palsy birth disorder can overcome their disability and become very successful. Barnhart lives with Cerebral Palsy, and while he travels across campus in a motorized wheelchair, uses an electronic communication device to help him speak, and is assisted by aides, his life reflects that of a typical college student. Barnhart throws around a football with his friends, participates in dorm pranks and antics and regularly speaks in class. Cerebral Palsy is thought to be caused by a prenatal brain injury, but Barnhart does not have mental disabilities; in fact, he made the Dean’s List during his first semester of college.

Our Chicago birth injury attorneys represent clients who have developed Cerebral Palsy as a result of medical malpractice and doctor error. For example, we reached a $4.5 million settlement on behalf of a child who suffered brain injury leading to Cerebral Palsy because a doctor failed to perform a timely Caesarean section despite fetal distress. The Illinois birth injury lawyers at our firm also reached a $2.3 million settlement for another child who suffered a severe brain injury and Cerebral Palsy when a physician failed to perform a Caesarean section in a timely manner after the child’s mother complained of a ripping and tearing feeling in her uterus. Birth injuries, such as Cerebral Palsy, often require lifelong medical care. Verdicts and settlements reached on behalf of victims can help to compensate for lifetime medical expenses, potential loss of income and pain and suffering from these injuries. If you believe that your child suffered a birth injury as a result of a healthcare provider’s negligence, please contact us to discuss your case.

January 22, 2010

Drop in Average Birth Weight May Lead to Fewer Birth Injuries

Researchers at Harvard Medical School recently released a paper in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology that found the average birth weight in American newborns has dropped by two ounces. The study looked at babies born between 1990 and 2005 and noted that this was the first decline in average birth weight since the 1950s. Additionally, the study found a decrease in the number of large babies born. This is seen as a positive because it leads to fewer instances of birth trauma. A decrease in the number of babies born over the 90th percentile also reduces the occurrence of serious birth injuries that can lead to lifelong health conditions, such as cerebral palsy. Follow the link to read more about this birth weight study.

January 4, 2010

FDA to Study Safety of Drugs during Pregnancy

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has just announced that it will be launching a new research program called the Medication Exposure in Pregnancy Risk Evaluation Program to study the effects of prescription drugs taken during pregnancy. The program is a collaborative effort between the FDA and researchers at the HMO Research Network Center for Education and Research in Therapeutics (CERT), Kaiser Permanente, and Vanderbilt University.

According to a new study, most mothers have taken at least one prescription drug during pregnancy, yet little is known about the actual risks of taking such drugs, such as the development of birth defects, because clinical research regarding drug safety during pregnancy is scant. This new program should provide the answers that doctors need for prescribing medications and allow expectant mothers to make informed decisions regarding the health of themselves and their babies.

Read more about the details of this new study at

September 2, 2009

The Small Picture: Fighting Cerebral Palsy with Nanotechnology

A research team at Wayne State University is convinced that the big solution to preventing and treating cerebral palsy may come in a small package. The husband-and-wife team consisting of chemical engineering professor, Rangaramanujam Kannan and assistant pediatrics professor Dr. Sujatha Kannan, has received a patent for using tiny polymers to attack what it considers to be the root of the disorder: inflammation in the brain.

Cerebral palsy is a condition made up of a group of motor disorders caused by brain damage that often occurs after suffering from a birth injury or an infection that develops while in the womb. Prevention of the condition has thus far proven to be very difficult because it is generally diagnosed only after the damage has already occurred.

The research team has developed tiny tree-shaped polymers called dendrimers, which range from 5-10 nanometers long (over 700 times smaller than a human red blood cell), that are used to carry medicine directly to inflamed areas in the brain. The team believes that this method, in conjunction with the identification and diagnosis of the neuroinflammation in newborns, could prevent, or at least reduce, the development of cerebral palsy. Dr. Kannan is currently able to detect such inflammation in the brains of newborn rabbits and she believes that doctors might eventually be able to do the same in human newborns. Once detected, the dendrimers could then be used to target the inflammation, which in turn could prevent the condition from developing.

For more information on using this nanotechnology to treat cerebral palsy, click here.

August 30, 2009

Birth Injury among Newborns Can be Avoided

In a recent study conducted by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the cases of child birth injuries are decreasing due to some medical breakthroughs and improvements on the healthcare system. The agency recently released data from 1,000 hospitals across the US and found that more than 157,000 child birth injuries could have prevented. The most common of the preventable birth injuries was the tearing between the vagina and rectum. This process is not complicated; however, some doctors had failed to fix it perfectly so that it caused complications. The study also revealed that instruments such as forceps put mothers at higher risk of vaginal tears. Also, mothers from wealthy households were 44 percent more likely to have vaginal injuries compared to those from low-income families. This is due to the increase in premature births in low-income families. The study also showed that certain factors can determine the likelihood of injuries in child birth. White babies are more vulnerable to injuries compared to ethnic groups such as African-American and Hispanic. Also male infants are more vulnerable to birth injuries than female babies. The government data showed that the most common injury among babies is a clavicle fracture. Also babies can dislocate their hips or break their thigh bone when their leg is twisted during deliveries. In some deliveries, brachial plexus, which is a group of nerves located from the neck and arm, may be injured. This happens when the baby’s head and arm is pulled in two opposite directions. To read more about the birth injury study, please click the link.

August 24, 2009

Exercising during Pregnancy may Reduce Birth Injury

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle throughout pregnancy is very beneficial for not only the health of the mother, but also for reducing the risk of birth injury. Babies born to women who eat a well balanced diet and exercise regularly throughout their pregnancy are less likely to be born prematurely, with low birth-weight or with birth defects. Exercise during pregnancy can maintain a woman’s muscle tone and build muscle which can help to lower the blood pressure of the fetus. Prenatal exercise can be an essential building block to a successful pregnancy and healthy baby. However, a woman should consult with a doctor before beginning any exercise regime in order to reduce any occurrence of birth injury. It is recommended that women who are pregnant keep their heart rate under 140 beats per minute and drink plenty of water. Since the body produces the hormone relaxin, the risk of injury during pregnancy can be increased if there is not special consideration paid to the body. To read more about the ways to decrease birth injury, please click the link.

August 13, 2009

New Hormone Shows Promise in Preventing Birth Injuries

A study conducted, which included more than 150 newborns with birth injuries, showed great promise in preventing birth injuries. This method involves injections of a hormone that stimulates red blood cell formation. The procedure can begin as late as two days after the birth injury. To read more about this study on preventing birth injuries, click here.

July 27, 2009

Informed Consent for Birth Injuries Takes a Small Step Forward

After a 13 million dollar verdict in favor of a mother who was not informed that a cesarean section was an option, the court decided that informed consent needs to involved information about all options. The mother’s son suffered a birth injury because of the lack of consent. The traumatic birth injury the child suffered from was cerebral palsy. This is a huge step for patients informed consent. To read the entire article click here “Informed Consent for Birth Injuries Takes a Small Step Forward

June 23, 2009

Fewer Birth Injuries

Between 2000 and 2006, birth injuries have dropped by 30%. Despite the decline, doctors feel that there are still a lot of birth injuries that still can be prevented. It is estimated that approximately 158,000 preventable birth injuries still take place. To read the entire article click here “birth injuries

May 28, 2009

Doctors’ Practice of Clamping Umbilical Cord Too Soon May Cause Brain Damage, Cerebral Palsy, and Autism

Before birth, a baby’s lungs are filled with fluid and very little oxygen flows through them. Instead, it receives oxygen through the placenta and umbilical cord. When an infant is born, a burst of oxygen-rich blood is delivered to him or her by a pulsation of the placenta and umbilical cord until its lungs are working and supplying oxygen on their own. This surge of blood is necessary in order for the newborn’s lungs to adequately expand and supply the brain with the oxygen it needs. Without it, the baby’s lungs fail to function adequately, causing his or her blood pressure to drop. This in turn can lead to oxygen deprivation and result in lung and brain damage.

In as little as 5 minutes after birth, the umbilical cord naturally begins to clamp, halting this blood flow. The common practice of hospitals, however, is to immediately place a clamp on the cord, usually within 1 minute, and often within 30 seconds, following the baby’s birth. This deprives the baby of a continuous source of oxygen until the lungs begin functioning properly. In addition to injuring the baby’s lungs, this lack of oxygen can cause serious brain damage, leading to birth injuries such as cerebral palsy, autism, learning disorders and mental deficiency.

Click here for information about a study into the dangers of premature cord clamping and for more information about umbilical cord clamping birth injuries.

May 5, 2009

New Technology Can Predict Risk of Shoulder Dystocia

A doctor recently unveiled medical software that may predict the probability of shoulder dystocia during birth. Shoulder dystocia is one of the most common complications during delivery and 20% of cases result in birth injury. Although some doctors believe that shoulder dystocia is both “unpredictable and unpreventable,” users of the new software hope to calculate the risk of this birth injury through algorithms based on data from the mother and baby. Read more about this new software that may predict shoulder dystocia in newborns.

April 13, 2009

New Software Used to Prevent Shoulder Dystocia

A computer program is shaping up to be the new hero in the prevention of shoulder dystocia and brachial plexus injuries. A new software program, called CALM Shoulder Screen, has been developed that calculates the risk of shoulder dystocia with permanent injury. The program analyzes several factors, including the mothers’ height and weight and determines whether they are at risk of suffering shoulder dystocia during delivery. Those ascertained to be at high risk can avoid the birth injury by opting for delivery by c-section. Obstetricians throughout the country have began utilizing this web-based system and it has been proven effective to be effective. The program can be used anytime after the 37th week of gestation.

For more information about this birth injury prevention software, click here.

March 11, 2009

Programs to Reduce C-Section Delays and Prevent Birth Injuries

When it comes to babies who are deprived of oxygen during birth, every second counts. Delays in the performance of c-sections can cause serious injuries to oxygen-deprived babies, such as brain damage and cerebral palsy. Hospitals and doctors can significantly reduce the length of c-section delays, however, by implementing quality improvement programs by doctors and hospitals, according to a new study published in this month’s issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology. In particular, the study found that, after 2 years of following such a program, the number of emergency c-sections that were delayed for over 30 minutes was reduced by up to 30% in some situations. These findings suggest that many devastating birth injuries could be prevented if hospitals and doctors simply implemented programs to address the delays.

Click the following link for more information about the quality improvement program study and its findings.

March 6, 2009

Cool New Therapy Reduces Brain Damage in Oxygen-Deprived Infants

Babies who are deprived of oxygen for any significant period of time during birth have a very high risk of suffering permanent brain damage. This risk of birth injury has shown to be reduced, however, by a new therapy that is pretty cool, literally. The therapy, called induced hypothermia, involves placing an infant on a cooling blanket within 6 hours of its birth for a period of 3 days, bringing its temperature down from the normal 98.6 degrees to about 92 degrees. Research shows that, while the therapy may not completely prevent brain damage, babies suffering from hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), or birth hypoxia and asphyxia, that receive the treatment have a greater chance of survival and the extent of their brain damage from oxygen deprivation is reduced.

Read more about this new cooling therapy here.

February 27, 2009

Breakthrough Scientific Discovery: New Compounds May Prevent Cerebral Palsy

Scientists at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., have developed two compounds that may be effective in protecting against cerebral palsy. The findings from their experiments with rabbits suggest that the compounds may have prevented the development of the disorder, which would have otherwise developed, following a lack of oxygen to the fetus. Notably, all of the fetuses born to mother rabbits that were treated with the compounds survived, whereas, over half of those without treatment died. Perhaps most impressive is that 83% of the animals treated with one of the compounds were born without any characteristics of cerebral palsy at all. More testing is necessary before they can conclude that the compounds will work to prevent birth injuries in humans, but these findings bring hope that infants subjected to birth hypoxia, such as those who suffer umbilical cord compression during labor, need not suffer permanent brain damage.

Read more about this exciting cerebral palsy prevention breakthrough in an article published by US News & World Report.

February 25, 2009

Newborn Screening Now Required in All States

Just 4 years ago, only a third of all infants born in the United States were required to undergo screening tests to determine whether they had acquired any of a multitude of conditions. Now, all states and the District of Columbia have enacted rules or regulations requiring newborn screening for at least 21 disorders including genetic, metabolic, hormonal and functional disorders. The screening is important to detect the presence of such birth defects and birth injuries because many have no visible symptoms until after permanent damage has developed. Early detection allows for timely treatment, which can prevent permanent injuries such as brain damage and mental retardation from occurring. If you are interested in learning more about newborn screening and the disorders that it can detect, the March of Dimes is an excellent resource.

Read more about the newborn screening requirements here.

February 23, 2009

Babies Born in Breech Position Have Greater Risk of Developing Cerebral Palsy

New research, presented at the Third International Cerebral Palsy Conference in Sydney, Australia, indicates that babies born in the breech position (feet-first) are 4 times more likely to develop cerebral palsy later in life than babies born in the normal (head-first) position. According to Diana Heggie, President of Cerebral Palsy Australia, knowing the risk factors of the developmental disorder is just as important as being aware of its current treatment.

February 18, 2009

New Study Finds that Infections during Pregnancy Increase the Risk of Cerebral Palsy

A new study by scientists from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Danish researchers has found that babies born to mothers who develop infections while pregnant have a greater risk of having cerebral palsy. Specifically, the study found that the risk of cerebral palsy was increased by 3 to 6 times when the mother had developed infections such as urinary tract infections. This research suggests that missed or delayed diagnoses of the infections, resulting in a lack of early treatment, may cause this birth injury in some babies.

Read more about the pregnancy infection study here.

February 11, 2009

Magnesium Sulfate May Reduce Risk of Cerebral Palsy

While babies can develop cerebral palsy a number of different ways, including as a result of medical negligence during birth, premature babies have a significantly higher risk of developing the developmental disorder than babies carried full-term. In fact, about a third of all cases of cerebral palsy occur in pre-term births. Evidence from a new Cochrane Review study, however, indicates that treating women at risk of very preterm birth with magnesium sulfate may increase the baby’s chance of being born free of cerebral palsy by as much as 32 percent. The treatment was also found to decrease the chance of developing other major movement disabilities by 39 percent.

Read more about the magnesium sulfate study here.

February 7, 2009

Untreated Gestational Diabetes May Lead to Shoulder Dystocia and Other Complications

A new study has found that treating even mild gestational diabetes significantly reduces the risk of certain birth injuries and lessens the need for emergency C-sections. Gestational diabetes occurs during late pregnancy, when a mother’s body is unable to produce and use all the insulin that it needs. Without enough insulin, the body is unable to convert the glucose into energy and, as a result, it builds up in the mother’s blood. This blood then reaches the baby through the placenta, giving it more sugar than it needs. The baby stores this excess energy as fat. Because the baby is larger than normal, there is an increased risk of its shoulders becoming lodged behind the mother’s pelvis during delivery, a situation known as shoulder dystocia. If the doctors and healthcare providers are negligent in their delivery, the baby can suffer from Brachial Plexus injuries. These injuries can be severe and permanent and may include paralysis and deformation of the baby’s arms. If you have been diagnosed with even a mild case of gestational diabetes, it is therefore important that you receive proper treatment in order to reduce these risks.

Read more about gestational diabetes and its risks here.