Articles Posted in Shoulder Dystocia

shoulder injuries to infants

Illinois Boy Recovers $8 Million in Damages for Birth Injury

When a baby’s delivery is delayed or the infant becomes lodged at birth, serious complications and injuries can arise. A more common injury in this situation is to the nerve bundles in the infant’s shoulder, which can become pinched, stretched, or pulled. As a result, movement problems arise in the shoulder, arm, and hand. At other times a collar bone or arm bone can break. And in certain situations, the child can be deprived of oxygen, leading to brain injury or death by asphyxia.

On June 29, 2020, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit announced a multimillion-dollar reward to an Illinois boy who suffered a shoulder injury at birth after his mother pleaded with the obstetrician of her fear in delivering a large baby. The delivery method the doctor chose ultimately left the boy with a shoulder injury and permanently disabled. Medical experts agreed he would be unable to do certain types of work in the future, resulting in the recovery of over $8 million in damages for noneconomic injuries and lost earnings. The lower court carefully considered the evidence and comparable cases and reached reasonable figures, given the child’s injuries, the Seventh Circuit said.

Levin Perconti - Baby's Shoulder

4 Newborn Injury Complications Caused by Shoulder Dystocia

One of the most feared complications of a normal vaginal delivery, shoulder dystocia is a frightening reality that most U.S. labor and delivery teams are not nearly as prepared for as they should be. The American Family Physician defines shoulder dystocia as a difficulty during labor that occurs when the anterior shoulder of the baby gets stuck behind one of the mother’s pelvic bones during a vaginal delivery and ultimately delays birth.

Today, clinicians have many tools available to recognize the knowns risks of shoulder dystocia and should be trained to adhere to more conservative approaches and tactics to ensure a safe delivery with minimal harm of pressure put onto the baby or the umbilical cord. Although risk factors are identifiable during the course of prenatal care, doctors do continue to make delivery mistakes such as having a mom continue to push or fail to intervene soon enough. These medical errors can result in several significant birth injuries to the infant’s nerves and oxygen flow, and the mother.

Injury Lawyer News reported last week on a new birth injury lawsuit that was filed earlier this year by a couple following complications during the birth of their child. According to the report, the couple sued a group of medical professionals and a medical facility in Boca Raton, Florida. The suit alleges that members of the staff acted negligently during the birth. In particular the plaintiffs claim that the hospital inadequately dealt with the expectant mother’s gestational diabetes. As a result, the child allegedly suffered brachial plexus injuries and hypoxia.

Gestational Diabetes

PubMed Health explains that gestational diabetes is essentially high blood sugar levels that are first diagnosed during pregnancy. The causes are varied, but generally the problem arises when pregnancy hormones block insulin from working properly. This results in rising glucose levels in the expectant mother’s blood.

Omaha News reported late last month on the conclusion of a birth injury lawsuit where a jury found for the family of a girl who lost the use her arm following medical errors during her birth. As with virtually all of these cases, the family is grateful for the redress, but they would obviously return it all for their child not to have suffered the life-changing harm in the first place. Our Chicago birth injury lawyers know that while the award total might seem large at first glance, it results from the fact that young girl will likely need costly and significant medical and caregiving aid for the rest of her life.

The girl in this case suffered the permanent injury during her turbulent birth in the summer of 2008. The girl was large for an infant, weighing in at more than 9 pounds when she was delivered. Unfortunately, it seems that her obstetrician failed to properly account for her large size or deal effectively with the traumatic delivery. According to attorneys for the family that filed the birth injury lawsuit, the doctor made a series of critical mistakes during the delivery.

A vacuum was used to help the child navigate the birth canal. However, there were serious questions raised about whether or not the vacuum was necessary. As a result of that step, the child’s shoulder became caught on the side of her mother’s pelvis. This is a common problem when mistakes are made by medical professionals during a birth. In an effort to fix the problem the doctor applied too much force in pulling down on the baby’s head. The pressure ultimately caused the newborn to experience significant nerve damage to one arm. Three nerves were ripped completely out and two others were ruptured in half. The damage left the arm virtually paralyzed. She has already had several surgeries, and many more are expected. Her parents explain that the three and half year old is just now beginning to look at other kids at her daycare and wonder why she is different.

Our Illinois birth injury attorneys recently read about a lawsuit in which the family of a baby that was born with birth injuries sued the doctor that was responsible for the delivery, for causing the injuries to be much more severe than they would have been had he not acted negligently. The negligence lawsuit alleges that the baby suffered permanent arm and shoulder nerve damage after the doctor did not act as quickly as he should have when the baby’s arm got stuck against his mother’s bone during delivery. The stuck shoulder should have led the doctor to perform immediate emergency surgery to help relieve the arm of the pressure, and the lack of the surgery led to the baby suffering from a severe and permanent injury.

The birth injury occurred back in 1989, and the now much older boy still has a weakened arm due to the damage at birth, and there is very extensive nerve damage to his whole arm. According to Justice News Flash, the lawsuit points out that the doctor that was responsible for the birth injury admitted himself to a drug rehabilitation center just days after the birth of the baby boy. The family believes that the doctor may have been under the influence of drugs and that his judgment was impaired at a point in time where he needed to make an emergency decision that he failed to make.

The birth injury and negligence lawsuit that was filed by the family of the victim likely seeks damages not only for medical bills and costs associated with the injury and physical therapy for the injury, but also for damages to help with the pain and suffering that the boy and his family have had to deal with as a result of the doctor’s negligence. The birth injury lawsuit was filed against the negligent doctor about four years ago but now the doctor cannot be found. He has lost his medical license and even his own attorney does not know where he is located. This is obviously very frustrating for the family, and the young man who suffered the birth injuries, because with they are not able to achieve the justice that they deserve or to receive any compensation that they are owed with the doctor missing. The attorney for the doctor is trying to have the case dismissed because the doctor is unable to be located but the family has asked the court for an extension in hopes that they doctor will be located and the case can continue on and they can receive damages for the birth injury.

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.

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.

Chicago injury lawyers at Levin & Perconti are very familiar with cases involving brachial plexus injuries. These injuries are some of the most common forms of medical malpractice at birth, and often have life-long effects on the injured child and his or her family.

The Mayo Clinic website defines the brachial plexus as a “network of nerves” originating at the back of a person’s neck in the spinal cord that branch down through a person’s shoulder, arm and hand. Most of the brachial plexus injuries we see occur during birth, many as a result of shoulder dystocia. A dystocia occurs when a baby’s shoulders get caught against its mother’s pubic bone during delivery. This can happen if a baby is too large to fit through the birthing canal. When a dystocia occurs and a medical provider, such as an obstetrician or midwife, uses excessive force or improper movements to try to dislodge the baby, these movements can damage a child’s brachial plexus nerves.

Injuries may occur in several different ways. For instance, if the brachial plexus nerves are stretched, it may result in short term injury and the victim usually can fully recover. The nerves may also tear partially or completely, with varying effects. In the event of a tear, nerves can often heal. An avulsion is the most severe type of brachial plexus injury because the nerves are not able to repair themselves. The extent of the injury is also determined by the location of the injury. For instance, if the injury occurs in the upper part of the brachial plexus network, Erb’s palsy occurs. Lower injuries can cause Klumpke’s palsy which affects the hand or the child’s wrist.

The long-term repercussions of a brachial plexus injury at birth vary. In some cases, the injury is slight and some brachial plexus injuries fully heal on their own within the first few months of a child’s life. Some of the symptoms of a brachial plexus injury include limpness or paralysis of the arm, a lack of controlled muscle movement in the arm, hand, or wrist, and lack sensation in the arm, wrist or hand. Physical therapies or surgeries may be used to treat these injuries in an attempt to restore functionality.
Continue reading › is reporting that a hospital will appeal a $56 million New York Supreme Court jury verdict awarded to a young boy, now seven, who suffered severe injuries during birth. According to the report, during delivery, the infant’s shoulder became impacted against his mother’s pelvic bone, causing a shoulder dystocia.

When shoulder dystocia occurs, it is crucial for labor and delivery staff to take immediate action to reduce harm to the baby. There are a number of maneuvers that practitioners should know to help decrease the risk of serious injury when dystocia occurs. However, if these maneuvers are performed incorrectly, infants can suffer serious birth injuries. In this case, the jury determined that the obstetrician and hospital staff failed to alleviate the shoulder dystocia in a timely manner, causing the newborn to suffer brain injury and nerve damage. The boy now lives with developmental delays and his speech is impaired.
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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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