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Earlier this week our Illinois birth accident lawyer shared information about the risks presented by certain products meant to protect newborns, like crib bumpers. We also alluded to other common ways that infants and toddlers are severely injured by seemingly innocuous products or objects, such as window blind cords. Unfortunately, accidents still strike even though awareness of these dangers has spread.

For example, the Daily Mail just reported on the tragic blind cord accident that has just left a two-year old girl permanently brain damaged and paralyzed. According to reports the young victim was put to bed by her parents last week at her regular time. However, without her parents knowing, the toddler crawled out of bed and began walking along a window near her room. However, the loop in the blind cord somehow became tangled on the girl’s neck. It began choking her and depriving oxygen to the brain. It was only a fluke by which the girl’s father happened to be walking by his daughter’s room and saw her hanging unconscious from the window. He immediately began performing CPR, and an ambulance was called.

Fortunately, the emergency rescuers were able to stabilize the girl but not before permanent brain damage resulted. The family reports that the child will have severe repercussions on the rest of her life. She will no longer be able to walk, talk, or feed herself. Obviously she will require close life-long care. The child was in a coma for a week after the accident, and has been in a rehabilitation facility for the severely disabled since her release from the hospital.

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Our Illinois birth injury attorneys were interested to learn about a new development in which many experts believe that a new screening test for newborn babies aiming at detecting heart problems could help reduce the number of birth injuries in newborns. Many birth injuries are detectable at the time the baby is born but certain types of birth injuries, such as heart problems, are often times not as obvious or detectable as others birth problems. For example, if the baby is not receiving oxygen it is clear that the baby is in trouble once they are born, and even a fetal distress monitor maybe able to detect an oxygen deprivation problem even before the baby is delivered. With birth problems that are more visible, there is hopefully enough time for the doctors and nurses to fix the problem and for the baby to be completely fine. However, when the baby suffers from a problem that is not apparent to the doctors or to the nurses at the time the baby is born there is a fear that the birth injury will do serious damage to the baby before any help is given.

While many types of heart problems are easily testable, about a quarter of heart defects in newborn babies, are not detectable by the normal tests that are usually given at birth. This type of hard to detect heart defect does not necessarily present any obvious signs and because of this doctors, nurses, and parents may not realize that there is a problem with the newborn baby. According to Voice of America, medical experts have discovered a new type of test, which is non-invasive to the newborn baby, in which the doctor can test for this hard to detect form of a heart defect. This test measures the level of oxygen in the baby’s blood, and when the levels of oxygen are too low it may be evidence of this type of rare heart defect. The ability to test for this other type of heart defect in newborn babies allow the doctors and nurses to monitor the baby more closely, and make it much less likely that the baby will be sent home without the treatment that it needs.

The oxygen level test can also help to identify other birth problems, such as infections to the baby that may go undetected if the test is not given. Many birth injury experts feel that this test could really help to reduce the number of serious birth problems, because it would help doctors and nurses realize that there is a problem with the baby before the damage is too severe. and give them the time necessary to fully treat the baby Our Chicago birth injury attorneys are happy to hear that there may be a way to help keep the number of damaging birth injuries down, and help keep more newborns healthy.

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Our Illinois birth injury attorneys worry about babies that are born with any type of oxygen deprivation, because even if severe brain injury does not result immediately there still may be cognitive and developmental injuries and defects that result later on in the child’s life. According to the American Psychological Association‘s study and Science Blog, even slight oxygen deprivation may be dangerous to babies, especially those babies that are born premature because they are typically more susceptible and vulnerable than full term babies. This type of lack of oxygen injury may not present itself until later on, and is not as easy to spot as an immediate injury caused by oxygen deprivation at birth.

When any baby (premature or full term) is born and suffers from oxygen deprivation for a significant amount of time, there may be severe brain damage that results and that is apparent immediately. This type of birth injury is often times preventable, but sometimes the damage to the baby occurs anyway due to the doctor’s negligence and the doctor’s failure to exercise the appropriate level of care. This severe brain injury can lead to a lifetime of medical care and rehabilitation and is often times the subject of a negligence birth injury lawsuit against the doctor or hospital responsible.

However, the type of birth injury that is less obvious, at least immediately, results from a shorter period of oxygen deprivation to babies that may be more vulnerable (such as premature babies). Studies have shown that premature babies that suffered from oxygen deprivation ended up more likely to have language developmental, as well as other cognitive developmental problems, that become apparent over time. This psychological study and finding show that the effects of oxygen deprivation are not just all or nothing and that there may be more of a gray area in terms of what any level of oxygen deprivation may do to a newborn.

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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.

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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 USNews.com 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.

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Our Chicago birth injury attorneys often receive troubling calls from heartbroken parents describing incidents of shoulder dystocia. According to a recent article from MissionLocal.org, 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.

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HealthBeat recently reported on the amount of cesearean sections in the past 35 years. Results show that numbers have tripled. Expectant mothers are likely now, more so than ever, to choose a c-section in advance rather than undergo a vaginal birth. In addition, according to another research study, the number of induced births has also increased. It has been reported that nearly 40% of births are electively induced – meaning that there was no medical necessity requiring the induction.

But while these numbers are growing, so are the complications attributed to each of these procedures. During induction, women are administered the drug Pitocin. Because induced labor is often painful, women are also given an epidural. Epidurals can increase the chances of a vacuum or forceps being used during delivery. Furthermore, because babies born by induced labors can often be born too early, the babies will likely be required to stay in the hospital’s neonatal care unit a lot longer than most infants.

Similarly, as addressed by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS): “Cesareans are associated with higher rates of surgical complications and maternal re-hospitalization as well as with complications requiring neonatal intensive care unit admission… In addition hospital charges for a Cesarean delivery are almost double those for a vaginal delivery.” Moreover, c-sections are major surgeries which require the patient to recover afterwards. This recovery can often take several weeks.

But while more and more women are choosing to undergo these pre-planned types of births, other women don’t have a choice. At times, c-sections are vital and if not done properly or efficiently, they can often lead to other birth injuries. It is extremely important for healthcare professionals to be cautious and thorough when dealing with such emergency situations in order to minimize error and avoid birth injury lawsuits. However, as our Chicago birth injury attorneys know, that is not always the case.
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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 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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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.
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