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Chicago birth injury attorneysChildbirth is a complicated process with many possible dangers for both the child and the mother. A serious problem that some newborns experience is birth asphyxia, a condition in which the infant cannot obtain sufficient oxygen during or after birth. Birth asphyxia can have many different causes, including problems with the placenta or umbilical cord, or complications with prolonged labor. If asphyxia affects your child, it is important to understand what this could mean for their health in both the short and long term.

Short-Term Symptoms and Effects

When a child is born, doctors use what is known as an Apgar score to gauge the baby’s health. To determine this score, doctors look for several indicators, including the child’s appearance, heart rate, reflexes, muscle activity, and breathing. Asphyxia can affect almost all of these indicators. For example, an infant who suffers from asphyxia often has discolored skin, a low pulse, and difficulty breathing. In most cases, doctors can recognize the symptoms of asphyxia and take action to address it as quickly as possible.

If birth asphyxia is not treated promptly, it can result in more serious health complications in the short term. The baby could experience seizures, blood clotting, high blood pressure, and acidosis, a condition in which there is excessive acid in the blood. Asphyxia can also cause organ failure, including in the liver, kidneys, and brain, and it may prove fatal soon after birth.

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Chicago birth injury lawyersTiming is a critical issue in a baby’s birth. When labor is not progressing normally, doctors may need to induce or speed up labor using various medical techniques. Unfortunately, labor induction is not without its risks. Mothers and babies can suffer birth injuries when labor is not induced properly, labor is prolonged, or the doctors fail to recognize the need for an emergency C-section.

Why Would a Doctor Induce Labor?

Labor induction involves various methods that stimulate uterine contractions and speed up the birth of a baby. A doctor might recommend labor induction when a pregnant woman is more than two weeks overdue, or medical concerns make induction the safest choice. Placental abruption, gestational diabetes, infections, and pre-labor rupture of membranes may all cause a doctor to recommend labor induction. Doctors have a legal “duty of care” to provide reasonably skillful medical care to patients. This includes thoroughly assessing the situation and determining what course of action is in the mother and baby’s best interests. If the risks associated with labor induction are lower than the risks of continuing without inducing labor, the doctor will suggest labor induction.

What Can Go Wrong During Labor Induction?

Labor induction works about three-fourths of the time. If labor induction does not produce the desired results, the mother may need an emergency C-section. Doctors have a very limited window of time during which they must determine if an emergency C-section is necessary. A delayed c-section can lead to significant birth injuries to the baby, including brain damage. Certain medications used to induce labor, including Pitocin and Cytotec (synthetic versions of the hormones prostaglandin and oxytocin), can cause abnormal contractions that lead to low fetal heart rate and reduced oxygen to the baby. The infant may suffer from brain injuries including hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), periventricular leukomalacia (PVL), and cystic encephalomalacia. Mothers may also suffer injuries caused by labor induction, including Infections, bleeding, and a serious complication called uterine rupture.

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Chicago birth injury attorneysAs a parent, your child’s cerebral palsy (CP) diagnosis can be cause for serious concern, both regarding their well-being and your ability to provide for the costs of their treatment and care. If the condition was caused by a birth injury related to medical negligence, you may be able to recover compensation from the parties at fault. However, given the immediacy of your child’s needs and the sheer magnitude of the expenses you are likely to face over time, it is understandable that you would look to other sources of financial assistance. One possible source of help for some parents is Social Security benefits.

Supplemental Security Income for Children With Cerebral Palsy

The U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) offers disability benefits through a couple of different programs. The program that most often helps families of children with CP is Supplemental Security Income (SSI). For a child to be eligible for SSI, they must have a qualifying disability and limited financial resources.

Qualifying disabilities are typically determined based on the SSA’s Listing of Impairments, commonly known as the Blue Book. Cerebral palsy is noted as a qualifying neurological disability for children, but only under certain circumstances. In order for your child to qualify for benefits, their condition must affect at least two extremities to the extent that they have extreme difficulty standing up from a seated position, balancing while standing, or using their upper limbs. Reports from your child’s doctors and therapists can help you demonstrate your child’s eligibility.

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Chicago birth injury attorneysCerebral palsy can have a profound impact on a child’s growth and development. As a parent of a child with cerebral palsy, you are probably constantly looking into ways to improve your child’s quality of life. Although surgery is often considered a last resort, several surgical procedures have been shown to improve mobility, pain, and overall functioning in children with cerebral palsy. Limb-lengthening or leg-lengthening surgery is an orthopedic surgery that corrects leg abnormalities or length discrepancies. This procedure may help a child with cerebral palsy with walking and movement, but the procedure is also associated with several risks.

How Does Leg-Lengthening Work?

Many children with cerebral palsy have legs that are different lengths. This can make walking very difficult and painful. Leg-lengthening surgery involves cutting the leg bone and allowing the body to form new bone so that the leg is longer than it was before the surgery. This is typically accomplished by inserting a metal device inside of the leg that slowly increases the space between the leg bones that were surgically separated. The body will then naturally fill in the space with bone over time.

What Are the Benefits of Leg-Lengthening for Cerebral Palsy Sufferers?

Having legs of two different lengths often causes pain in the back, hips, legs, and feet. Leg discrepancies may also accelerate joint deterioration. Limb-lengthening surgeries have about a 95 percent success rate. The procedure may correct leg discrepancies and misalignment that make it harder for children with cerebral palsy to get around. It may also reduce pain and slow the weakening of the joints.

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Illinois cerebral palsy attorneysPublic opinion about cannabis products has changed dramatically in the last several decades. More and more people are using products like cannabidiol, or CBD, to treat everything from chronic pain to seizures. If you are a parent of a child with cerebral palsy, you may watch your child struggle with muscle pain and stiffness, reduced mobility, involuntary movements, and a host of other symptoms. Some parents have found that CBD oil is an effective treatment option for children with cerebral palsy, however, there is still controversy and uncertainty surrounding cannabidiol.  

What is CBD Oil?

While CBD oil is derived from cannabis, CBD oil is not the same thing as marijuana. Cannabidiol is one of the non-psychoactive active ingredients in the hemp plant. This means that users do not feel a “high” when they consume products containing only CBD. The World Health Organization reports that the substance “exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential” and most medical experts do not consider the product to be dangerous. However, the effectiveness of CBD oil has been called into question.

Does CBD Work for Cerebral Palsy Sufferers?

Clinical studies have shown CBD to be an effective treatment option for childhood epilepsy as well as chronic pain and anxiety. Some parents of children with cerebral palsy have also found that the supplement reduces cerebral palsy symptoms. One mother found that CBD oil helps her nine-year-old significantly. She states that the substance dramatically reduced the incidence of her child’s tonic-clonic seizures and “really really relaxes her.” However, the benefits and risks associated with using CBD oil to combat cerebral palsy symptoms has not been fully researched. Therefore, it is important to discuss any questions and concerns you have with your child’s doctor.

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Illinois birth injury attorneyCerebral palsy can lead to life-altering symptoms. A child with cerebral palsy may have difficulty eating and speaking, walking, and using his or her muscles to complete everyday tasks. He or she may be afflicted with involuntary movements and muscle rigidity. Some cerebral palsy sufferers also experience intellectual disabilities and problems with learning and development. If your child has cerebral palsy, you may be interested in alternatives to traditional medical interventions.

Complementary and Alternative Medicine for Children with Cerebral Palsy

There is still much that we do not know about alternative treatment for cerebral palsy sufferers. Some families find that alternative therapy reduces their child’s CP symptoms and increases his or her quality of life. However, others do not find the treatments to be effective. 

If you have a child with cerebral palsy, you may want to ask your child’s doctor about exploring alternative therapies such as:

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Chicago birth injury attorneyIdeally, a baby is born head-first. This ensures that the child can breathe as soon as his or her head clears the birth canal. A baby that is positioned incorrectly within the mother’s body during labor and delivery may suffer life-threatening birth injuries. Doctors may need to take corrective actions to reposition the baby or deliver the baby through Cesarean section (C-section.) If a doctor fails to handle a breech birth correctly, the baby may suffer serious or even fatal injuries.

Potential Remedies for a Baby in Breech Presentation

When a baby is in breech presentation, doctors have several choices. In some cases, the doctor may be able to manually reposition the baby so that the mother can continue with a vaginal delivery. External cephalic version (ECV) is a process during which a doctor pushes on the outside of the woman’s abdomen in order to manually reposition the baby. However, this procedure is not safe in situations involving multiples, rupture of the amniotic sac, abnormal fetal heart rate, low amniotic fluid levels, or vaginal bleeding.

In many cases, the best way to ensure that a breech baby is delivered safely is to deliver the baby via C-section. Although there are also risks associated with a C-section, the risks of vaginal delivery often outweigh the risks of a C-section when the baby is not positioned correctly. An obstetrician must consider all of the relevant factors and make the decision that reduces the chances of injury to the baby and the mother as much as possible.

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IL birth injury lawyerCerebral palsy is a life-changing medical condition that can affect everything from walking and eating to cognition and learning abilities. If you have a child with cerebral palsy, you know just how far-reaching the illness's effects can be. Fortunately, doctors and researchers are learning more and more about cerebral palsy every day. Many medical interventions, including several surgical procedures, may improve the quality of cerebral palsy sufferers' lives.

Orthopedic Surgery for Children with Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy can lead to rigid muscles, uncontrollable muscle movement, and difficulty with everyday tasks like using a pencil or showering. Children with cerebral palsy may struggle to gain the independence they crave because of their lack of muscle control. Orthopedic surgery has proven to be one method of improving functionality. As a parent, the thought of your child going under the knife may understandably be unnerving. Most parents try various other treatment options such as physical therapy and muscle injections before trying surgery. Unfortunately, these treatments do not always result in the relief doctors hope for.

Some orthopedic surgeries that may alleviate cerebral palsy symptoms include:

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IL birth injury lawyerDuring pregnancy, the health of the growing fetus is directly tied to the mother’s health. If the mother suffers from a medical condition such as preeclampsia, this may have a direct impact on the baby’s wellbeing. For these reasons, doctors must closely monitor a pregnant mother’s health. The sooner a maternal health condition is diagnosed, the sooner treatment can begin. If a doctor fails to recognize the signs of a health complication during pregnancy, the baby may suffer an avoidable birth injury.

What is Preeclampsia?

Preeclampsia is characterized by high maternal blood pressure during pregnancy. Sometimes, a mother suddenly experiences elevated blood pressure, and other times, her blood pressure slowly rises over time. Blood pressure greater than 140/90 mm Hg is considered abnormal. Some mothers suffering from preeclampsia do not experience symptoms of high blood pressure. Others experience symptoms like:

  • Headaches
  • Shortness of breath
  • Blurred vision
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Sudden weight gain
  • Swelling in the face and hands
  • Signs of kidney and liver problems

Because pregnant mothers may not experience symptoms and many preeclampsia symptoms are typical of pregnancy in general, doctors must routinely check a pregnant woman’s blood pressure. Two abnormal blood pressure readings more than four hours apart are usually indicative of preeclampsia.

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IL birth injury lawyerPremature birth, or birth before 37 weeks gestation, is associated with a range of medical concerns. A baby who is born too early may experience patent ductus arteriosus (PDA), low blood pressure, breathing problems, intraventricular hemorrhage, and other life-threatening medical problems shortly after birth. Premature babies may grow up suffering from intellectual disabilities, vision and hearing problems, cerebral palsy, and more. Sadly, some premature babies die during infancy. If your baby was born premature, you may question whether medical mistakes are to blame.

Risk Factors that Increase the Chances of Premature Birth

Understanding why a baby is born prematurely is often extremely difficult. Countless factors influence the health and growth of a fetus. However, researchers have identified certain risk factors that make premature birth more likely. These factors include:

  • Maternal infections
  • Maternal high blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Maternal diabetes
  • Problems with the mother’s cervix, placenta, or uterus
  • Insufficient cervix (incompetent cervix)
  • Previous premature births
  • Giving birth to multiples
  • In vitro fertilization
  • Drug, alcohol, or cigarette use during pregnancy
  • Maternal obesity or being underweight
  • Physical trauma during pregnancy

Doctors should be aware of any risks that may endanger the health of a growing fetus. If doctors fail to take the appropriate steps to address risk factors, they may be liable for an infant’s premature birth. Studies have shown that infection and inflammation are significant contributors to spontaneous preterm births. Urinary tract infections, uterine infections, and sexually transmitted infections should be treated promptly to lessen the chances of harm to the baby.

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IL birth injury lawyerMost babies weigh between six to nine pounds at birth. While many people are aware of the risks premature and underweight babies face, fewer are aware of the risks associated with larger-than-average babies. “Fetal macrosomia” refers to an infant that weighs more than 8 pounds, 13 ounces. Fetal macrosomia occurs in just under 10 percent of newborns. While many babies with fetal macrosomia are born healthy, high fetal weight can increase the risks of birth injuries such as shoulder dystocia.

Potential Consequences of Fetal Macrosomia

Babies that meet the criteria for fetal macrosomia increase the chances of complications during labor and delivery. One of the primary concerns for large babies is the risk of shoulder dystocia. This condition occurs when the baby becomes lodged on the mother’s pelvis during delivery. The infant’s head is delivered, but his or her shoulders are too large to fit through the mother’s pubic bone. This potentially life-threatening condition must be immediately addressed. Shoulder dystocia may deprive the baby of oxygen which can cause brain damage in a matter of minutes. The condition may also place so much pressure on the baby’s neck and shoulders that the baby’s brachial plexus nerves are damaged.

Uterine rupture, a condition in which the uterus tears during labor, may also be caused by fetal macrosomia. This condition typically necessitates an emergency C-section. Fetal macrosomia may require the use of birth-assistive devices such as vacuum extractors and forceps which may potentially injure the infant. Vaginal tearing and other injuries to the mother may be caused by large birth weight as well.

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Illinois medical negligence attorney birth injury

Childbirth used to be extremely painful and had a high chance of infant or maternal death. Medications have made childbirth much safer for women in the western world. Unfortunately, the medications used to make childbirth easier and safer are sometimes the same medications that can cause preventable birth injuries. Incorrect administration, inaccurate dosing, and other medication mistakes can cause severe harm to infants and mothers.

Prescribing or Administering a Medication During Pregnancy That Harms the Baby

Women who are pregnant must be very careful of what they put in their bodies. While most people think of illicit drugs when they think of drugs that can harm an unborn child, prescription medications can also cause birth injuries or even fetal death. Many SSRI medications designed to treat depression such as Zoloft and Prozac are very dangerous to unborn children. Persistent pulmonary hypertension, cleft palate, and Spina Bifida are just some of the birth defects that may be caused by certain antidepression medications. Some antibiotic medications, acne medications, and seizure medications like Lamictal and Tegretol may also cause birth defects. Doctors who prescribe or administer these medications to pregnant women may be liable if the baby suffers a birth defect.

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Illinois medical malpractice attorney birth injury

Our spinal cords serve numerous vital functions. Consequently, damage to the spinal cord before or during an infant’s birth can have profound consequences. Babies who sustain a spinal cord injury during birth may suffer from paralysis, difficulty breathing, digestion issues, and more. The infant may require extensive medical intervention to recover from the spinal cord damage or he or she may be disabled for the rest of his or her life. There are many different reasons that an infant may suffer a spinal cord injury. In some cases, a spinal cord injury is caused by negligent medical care during a child’s birth.

Trauma During Birth May Damage a Baby’s Spinal Cord

Often, spinal cord injuries during birth occur because there is an urgent need to deliver the baby so birth assistive tools are used. For example, if the baby is not receiving enough blood flow to the brain, doctors may need to manually assist labor using forceps or vacuum extraction. When used correctly, birth-assistive tools can save an infant’s life. However, misuse of these tools or using assistive tools with an alternative birthing method can lead to preventable birth injuries. Force applied manually or via assistive tools, external cephalic version, and excessive traction may cause the baby’s spinal cord to become bruised or torn.

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Cook County medical negligence attorney

Little can prepare a parent for the news that their child suffers from a disability like cerebral palsy. In addition to the grief, shock, and anger a parent may understandably feel, they must also contend with the massive financial impact the disability can cause. In one study, it was estimated that the costs associated with a cerebral palsy diagnosis total approximately $1 million. If your child is suffering from cerebral palsy caused by substandard medical care, it is important to know your options for seeking restitution.

Medical and Educational Expenses for a Child with Cerebral Palsy

A 2004 study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) investigated the direct and indirect costs of a child developing cerebral palsy. The study was, and still is, one of the most comprehensive evaluations of its kind. Researchers found that the average lifetime cost of cerebral palsy per person totaled approximately $921,000 in 2003 dollars. Adjusted for inflation, that equates to $1,326,128 in 2021. It is important to note that this estimate does not include the financial losses suffered by caregivers due to lost income and productivity and other out-of-pocket expenses.

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Illinois birth injury attorney delayed C-section

Approximately 30 percent of babies born in the United States are born via cesarean section or C-section. Some mothers plan a C-section in advance for personal reasons or health concerns. Others are forced to deliver their baby through an emergency C-section because medical complications make a vaginal birth too dangerous. One of the most crucial responsibilities obstetricians and other medical staff have is to recognize when unplanned or emergency C-sections are needed to protect the health of the mother or the baby. Delayed C-sections or proceeding with vaginal birth when a C-section is safer can lead to preventable birth injuries.  

Failure to Provide a Timely C-Section

Like all doctors, obstetricians have a legal obligation to provide reasonably skilled medical treatment to expectant mothers. This includes carefully weighing the risks associated with vaginal birth versus cesarean delivery on a case-by-case basis. A mother may require an emergency C-section if labor is prolonged, the baby is in a breech position, problems with the umbilical cord or placenta cuts off the baby’s blood supply, or other medical complications arise. If a mother requires an emergency C-section, the procedure must be carried out quickly. If a doctor waits too long to perform a C-section or fails to perform a necessary C-section, the baby or the mother could be left with lasting injuries.

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Cook County medical malpractice attorney birth injury

Births take place every day in hospitals throughout the United States, and doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel are trained and equipped to address complications and perform procedures to ensure that children are delivered safely. Cesarean deliveries are commonly performed if there are problems that would make a vaginal delivery unsafe, and in some cases, emergency C-sections are necessary to prevent birth injuries to children. Since a C-section is a surgical procedure, there are a variety of complications that can occur, and in addition to issues that may affect the health of a child, there is also a risk of life-threatening maternal injuries.

Injuries to Infants in a Cesarean Delivery

While C-sections can usually be performed without putting a child at risk, some injuries may still occur. The most common injuries involve lacerations in which a child is cut by surgical tools during the procedure. While these types of injuries are usually minor, in some cases, they could lead to serious blood loss or nerve damage. If children are delivered before 39 weeks, they are at higher risk of injuries such as broken bones, skull fractures, or brachial plexus injuries. Following a C-section, some newborns will experience breathing issues or excessive fluid in the lungs.

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Cook County medical negligence attorney maternal injury

For the past year, people throughout the United States have been concerned about the risks of COVID-19, and as the virus continues to affect everyone’s daily lives, most people are taking precautions to minimize the risks of infection. Those who do become infected may be able to receive the treatment necessary to recover, but the chances of death continue to be high. This is a major concern for pregnant mothers since they will want to protect their child’s health in addition to their own. Unfortunately, the rate of maternal death in the United States, which is already significantly higher than in other industrialized countries, has become even higher for mothers who have been infected with COVID-19.

Additional Risks for Pregnant Mothers

Multiple studies have looked at the rates of severe illness, hospitalization, and death among pregnant women with COVID-19, finding that these women are at an increased risk of serious complications. Pregnant women are 3.5 times more likely to be hospitalized, and they are also much more likely to be admitted to an intensive care unit or require interventions such as invasive ventilation or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO). In addition, a study found that the maternal mortality rate for women with COVID-19 infections was 1,250 deaths out of 100,000 pregnancies. This rate is 13.6 times higher than the mortality rate for non-pregnant adults of a similar age.

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Cook County birth injury attorney sepsis

During pregnancy, labor, and delivery, there are a variety of health issues that can affect both mothers and children. One major concern is the possibility of contracting infectious diseases. Viruses or bacteria may be transferred from a mother to a child during pregnancy, or pediatric infections or maternal infections may occur if the proper sterilization procedures are not followed during delivery. While infections can be dangerous enough on their own, they may also result in sepsis, which is a life-threatening condition that can affect a person’s long-term health.

Symptoms and Complications of Sepsis

In some cases, infections are localized in one part of the body. However, when an infection spreads throughout the body or bloodstream, or if it infects one or more major organs, this may trigger an immune response that can cause additional complications. The chemicals released by the body to combat infections can lead to the inflammation of the body’s tissues. In serious cases, a person may experience septic shock, in which their blood pressure may drop to dangerously low levels, and they may suffer permanent damage to organs such as the heart, lungs, kidneys, or brain.

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Cook County birth injury attorney cerebral palsy

Sleep is an important part of everyone’s life. Those who struggle with problems that make it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep will not only have trouble getting enough rest, but their overall health may also be affected. Unfortunately, cerebral palsy can often lead to a variety of sleep issues for children. Parents will want to make sure they are doing everything they can to protect children’s health while allowing them to live happy and fulfilling lives. By understanding the factors that may lead to sleep problems, they can determine the best ways to help children get the rest they need while also addressing any related issues that may affect their physical or mental health.

Causes of Sleep Deficiency for Children With Cerebral Palsy

Sleep deficiency may involve multiple different types of disruptions in a child’s normal sleep patterns, including resistance to going to sleep, waking up during the night or in the early morning, and being unable to fall asleep without assistance. Sleep deficiency can have a variety of negative effects, including behavioral problems, mood disorders such as depression, cognitive impairments, decreased performance in school, and physical health problems such as obesity or sensory processing issues.

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Cook County birth injury attorney meconium aspiration syndrome

The first stool that a child passes is known as meconium. This fecal matter is usually thick and sticky, and while it is usually passed after the child is born, there are some cases where it may be passed either before or during labor. When this occurs, the child may be at risk of meconium aspiration, in which the fecal matter is breathed into his or her lungs. This can lead to serious birth injuries that may affect a child’s health and well-being both immediately after birth and in the years to come.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Meconium Aspiration Syndrome

When meconium is breathed into the lungs, it can block the airways, or it may coat the air sacs in the lungs, affecting the child’s ability to absorb oxygen into the bloodstream. This can lead to asphyxia, and if the oxygen supply to the child’s brain is interrupted, he or she may experience brain damage and conditions such as cerebral palsy. Blocked airways can also cause the child’s lungs to overexpand and rupture or collapse. Meconium aspiration may also lead to infections that can have a variety of long-term effects.

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