Articles Posted in Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE)

Birth Asphyxia

3 Types of Asphyxia Related Childbirth Injuries

Some of the most traumatic injuries that arise during childbirth are those that affect the baby’s brain. Asphyxia is an irreversible event that occurs when the brain is deprived of oxygen for an extended time prenatally, intrapartum, or postnatally and results in abnormal neurologic function in a newborn. The harm can be incredibly debilitating and impact the child’s suffering for the remainder of their life.

When medical provider negligence is involved in a childbirth-related injury, it is likely due to a failure to monitor the fetus and respond to distress or diagnose a potential delivery issue. Many birth injury lawsuits have been filed because of these unfortunate labor and delivery events.

According to Westlaw News, a pending lawsuit on the west coast claims that hospital doctors intentionally delayed delivery of a baby after they confirmed that the baby would be born with substantial brain injuries. This birth injury lawsuit continues to allege that the hospital doctors delayed delivery in order to increase the likelihood that the baby would not survive delivery.

The unborn baby’s mother is alleging that doctors knew that her unborn baby needed to be delivered immediately and that failure to do so would result in traumatic brain damaged.

She further states that once the doctors determined that the unborn baby had in fact suffered severe brain damage, the doctors purposefully took actions to end the unborn baby’s life in order to save the hospital and the doctors from legal and financial responsibility.

Unfortunately, this pending birth injury lawsuit is not the only case where unborn babies have been affected by a doctor’s negligence. As covered in this blog recently, in one birth injury lawsuit, a newborn baby suffered from fetal hypoxia when doctors failed to order an emergency Cesarean section. In another case, a birth injury lawyer represented the family of a newborn who suffered a brain injury from severe lack of oxygen during delivery. You can read more about these incidents below.
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Chicago birth injury lawyers John J. Perconti and Patricia Gifford of Levin & Perconti represented a ten year old girl who suffers from cerebral palsy and mental retardation. The young girl sustained a brain injury during complications that could have been prevented during her birth.

On November 24, 2010, Levin & Perconti announced that the Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, IL and a physician who failed to perform a timely Cesarean section agreed to pay a $6.5 million present cash value settlement to the injured child and her family.

Doctors failed to diagnose cephalopelvic disproportion in the pregnant mother. Physicians further failed to order an emergency Cesarean section even though they noted erratic decelerations in the fetus, a common warning sign for fetal hypoxia. Once an emergency Cesarean section was ordered, mistakes made by the anesthesiologist resulted in the nursing staff having to hold the mother down while the incision was made during the surgery.

Fortunately, both the newborn and mother survived the procedure. However, the newborn suffered from hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, which caused the child’s cerebral palsy and mental retardation. The family plans to use the settlement to provide their daughter with the appropriate care she currently needs and the ongoing care she will have to have throughout her adult life.
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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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A lawsuit was filed in St. Clair County, IL on behalf of a baby that died due to birth injuries. The child’s grandmother filed the birth injury lawsuit against the doctor that delivered him and the hospital where he was born. The lawsuit alleges that the doctor failed to perform a cesarean or treat the baby during delivery. The baby suffered neonatal hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy during delivery and died several months later from his birth injury. Read full coverage of this Illinois medical malpractice case.

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.

A settlement has been reached in an Illinois birth injury lawsuit involving an Aurora boy who is now 7 years old. The boy allegedly suffered a birth injury when the hospital staff failed to respond to the baby’s low heart rate and reduced oxygen flow caused the drug Pitocin. He was born with metabolic acidosis and hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy. The defendants in the birth injury lawsuit settled for $6.5 million.

For the full article.

A new study published in the November 1st issue of Biological Psychiatry concludes that complications during pregnancy and birth hypoxia, a shortage of oxygen to the baby’s brain which can result from delays in delivery, are associated with an increased risk for schizophrenia. The study specifically finds that people who later develop schizophrenia are more likely to have decreased levels of neuroprotective protein – brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), an indicator of fetal distress resulting from birth hypoxia. The study’s authors are hopeful that their findings, which will require further testing, may someday lead to preventative intervention and at-birth identification of individuals at high-risk of developing the condition.

For the full story, click here.

A Wisconsin jury awarded $11.4 million to the parents of a child born with Cerebral Palsy, and found a nurse and midwife at Gunderson Lutheran Medical Center negligent in the child’s delivery, causing the brain damage. The lawsuit alleged that the baby was deprived of oxygen due to a delay in his delivery and that the mother was administered the drug Pitocin in frequent and increased dosages without a physician’s order, in violation of hospital policy, which caused additional stress to the fetus and an abnormal contraction pattern.

The child suffers from Cerebral Palsy and other permanent personal injuries. He is not expected to ever walk or talk and requires a feeding tube. The parents state that, while the jury award cannot give their child a normal life, it will help them to provide the therapy, treatment, and accommodations that their son will need throughout his life.
For the full story, click here.

A jury found a hospital liable for medical malpractice and awarded $4.25 million to the family of a girl who, after a traumatic birth, was born with Cerebral Palsy and brain damage. The baby’s heart rate began to drop while the mother was lying in a hospital bed but the doctor had gone home for dinner. By the time another doctor arrived and performed an emergency Cesarean Section, the baby had been deprived of oxygen for 20 minutes.

The jury found that the hospital ignored signs of fetal distress, failed to notify a doctor in time to perform a timely emergency C-Section, and that this delay caused the child’s injuries.

The jury awarded compensation for past and future medical expenses, lost future earnings and pain and suffering.

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