Articles Posted in Lack of Oxygen to Fetus

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.

A birth injury lawyer secured an $8.5 million settlement for the family of a severely brain-damaged child. The Jersey Journal reported that even though the trial had already begun, attorneys reached an agreement to settle after five days of trial testimony.

According to the lawsuit, when the mother-to-be first went to the hospital, several prenatal tests were conducted. All of these tests suggested that the unborn baby was normal and healthy. A prenatal heart monitor was then attached to the mother’s abdomen to track the baby’s heart rate. Several hours later, the baby’s heart rate started to drop. In fact, records showed that the unborn baby’s heart rate reached a dangerously low level of 60 beats per minute.

Although the baby’s heart rate was grave and required immediate medical attention, evidence suggested that the labor and delivery room nurse waited almost half an hour before calling the attending obstetrician. As the unborn baby continued to struggle, the obstetrician took over twenty minutes before even starting an emergency Cesarean section.

Evidence at trial showed that the unborn baby’s umbilical chord was compressed. This can cause a baby’s low heart rate and can cause the fetus to be deprived of oxygen. Experts in the case claimed that as a result of the unnecessary delays by the obstetrician and the delivery room nurse, the unborn baby suffered permanent brain damage.

The child, who is now five years old, suffers from seizures, is unable to walk, and needs to be fed through a straw. The child will be in need for full-time care for his entire life. According to the terms of this birth injury settlement, $6 million was provided for the medical expenses the child will incur in the future. The parents received $2.5 million as compensation for their emotional pain and other damages.

To read more about this birth injury settlement, follow the link.

Unfortunately birth injuries are not uncommon. In early March a family received $19.2 million for their child’s birth injury. Click on the link if you wish to learn more about the family’s struggle with their child’s birth injury. Birth injuries often result in brain injury for the unborn child. If you want to learn more about brain injuries, follow the link.

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The McKinney Courier-Gazette reported on a pregnant woman who was forced to give birth to her daughter at home after she was turned away from her local hospital. The woman reported to the hospital’s emergency room for treatment. She told the staff in the emergency room that she was suffering from sudden and severe pelvic pain. But the staff discharged her the same day without conducting an examination. When the woman returned home, she went into labor. Her delayed delivery caused her newborn daughter to sustain a traumatic birth injury.

When an unborn baby is delayed during labor, there may be tragic consequences affecting the health of the child. A delayed delivery may cause hypoxia resulting in brain injury due to lack of oxygen. Delayed deliveries may also cause cerebral palsy, Erb’s Palsy (paralysis of the arm), and other learning or developmental disabilities.

Delayed births may be the result of the inattentiveness or the negligence of the attending physician or hospital staff. Victims of birth injuries are sometimes awarded multi-million dollar verdicts or settlements to compensate for the medical costs, pain and suffering, and even the disability the child and their family may face.
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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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A midwife in Concord, New Hampshire surrendered her license to practice following multiple complaints alleging that the midwife failed to take proper precautions during delivery. Some of the complaints have turned into lawsuits. In one suit, the mother developed an infection and underwent a hysterectomy immediately after giving birth. Another lawsuit deals with a child who suffered severe brain injury during birth.

In New Hampshire, midwives must take a college course in anatomy, study under a practicing midwife and pass a written exam to become certified. The New Hampshire Midwifery Council licenses and oversees the state’s lay midwives.

The midwife facing these current allegations has already faced restrictions on her license in the past due to a birth injury in which the midwife failed to monitor the labor properly. According to the Midwifery Council, who keeps files on recorded complaints, the midwife failed to get emergency help in a timely manner and the baby consequently died.

As a result of her negligence in that case, the Midwifery Council required the midwife to temporarily practice under another midwife and to participate in continuing education. However, following her supervision, the midwife assisted eight births in one year that sparked numerous allegations of misconduct.

In one past case, the midwife was unable to locate the baby’s heart rate for an extended time near the end of the labor. According to the patient’s allegations, the midwife didn’t call 911 immediately after birth even though the baby was not breathing. Instead of calling 911, the midwife allowed a student midwife try to revive the baby. The student did not have any training or education in neonatal resuscitation. Although the baby was resuscitated after being taken to a local hospital, the newborn sustained severe brain injury due to lack of oxygen during birth.

To read more about these allegations, visit the Concord Monitor.
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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 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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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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Xzavier Hyman, a four year old child from Staten Island, was recently awarded $510,000 in a Medical Malpractice action against the obstetrician-gynecologist responsible for delivering him.

Xzavier’s mother, Ms. Spicer, was going through a difficult birth so Xzavier’s doctor, Dr. Paul Heltzer, ordered the use of Pitocin, a drug which helps speed up delivery by inducing contractions, to help her along in the birthing process. Pitocin is commonly used for women who are having difficulty delivering their child. However, Dr. Heltzer made the mistake of administering the drug for too long which put stress on Xzavier’s brain, causing three or four strokes and three seizures within 10 hours of his birth.

Xzavier’s attorney’s successfully argued that Ms. Spicer was kept too long on Petocin, and her relentless contractions stressed Xzavier. Additionally, they argued that a Caesarean operation should have been performed several hours before Ms. Spicer gave vaginal birth to Xzavier. If these steps were taken, Xzavier’s injuries could have been avoided.

The delivery, and subsequent stokes and seizures, left Xzavier with permanent injuries. Xzavier still suffers from some speech and fine motor skill deficiencies, the gap in IQ between him and his peers has continued to widen, and his life expectancy was cut approximately six years.

Both Xzavier’s mother and attorney expressed joy that the verdict came down in their favor, but disappointment that the award was not higher. Many birth injury malpractice cases award damages far greater than the $510,000 that Xzavier received. Much of this is based on the ongoing medical bills that a child will face as he ages because of the injury.
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