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Chicago birth injury attorneyHealthcare providers are essential during childbirth for ensuring a safe delivery and healthy infant. The responsibilities these caregivers have are enormous and parents must place their trust in their team of doctors during a physically vulnerable and emotionally heightened moment. While most deliveries are successful and parents are rewarded with the joy of meeting their child for the first time, some deliveries are complicated and require quick, deft decision-making and medical treatment. 

When labor is not progressing or a baby needs urgent delivery, doctors may recommend a forceps delivery to help the baby come out more quickly. Birth forceps are exactly what they sound like - specialized tools that help a doctor grasp an infant and guide them out with pulling motions. While birth forceps can be very effective, they can result in serious injuries if they are used inappropriately. 

When Are Forceps the Right Delivery Tool? 

Certain situations require the use of forceps and a doctor’s experience, training, and good medical judgment will determine whether they are used in a specific instance. Situations that may require the use of forceps include: 

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Chicago birth defect attorneyFrom time to time, a story will make headlines about a child who was screened for genetic or physical abnormalities in utero, given a clean bill of health, and then born with a serious or life-threatening birth defect. And in 2009, the Illinois Appellate Court decided that parents who prove that a doctor mistakenly diagnosed or failed to diagnose genetic disorders can seek damages for the emotional and financial damages the parents incur when they give birth to a child with a diagnosable disability. 

If you requested tests that were intended to show genetic or developmental disabilities while you were pregnant and a doctor misread the results or failed to recognize a prenatal developmental disorder, you may be able to take legal action with the help of an experienced Chicago, IL birth injury attorney

What Are Examples of Common Wrongful Birth Defects? 

Pregnant women who are at a heightened risk of carrying certain genetic disorders are frequently screened during pregnancy, although genetic screening is becoming more common as the trend of women having children at older ages continues. Sometimes genetic screening looks normal and then developmental irregularities appear for the first time in an ultrasound later in the pregnancy. Parents frequently decide to terminate these pregnancies because the life expectancy and quality of the child can be seriously negatively affected. Some of the serious genetic disorders or developmental abnormalities include: 

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Chicago dropped baby injury lawyerWhile a baby dropped on its head may make up a good portion of schoolyard taunts, when an infant is dropped during delivery, it is no laughing matter. Most Chicago mothers envision their labor and delivery ending with a final push, a gentle catch by the attending doctor or midwife, followed by tender first moments with baby. When these first moments are disturbed or taken away altogether because of a doctor’s carelessness or distraction handling a newborn infant, there are no words to describe the confusion and devastation that follow. 

Every child deserves a fair chance at starting her life off with health and joy; the delivery process is already complicated and chaotic enough without additional complications. But if your infant was dropped or mishandled during delivery and injured or killed as a result, you can take action to seek compensation and prevent such a tragedy from happening to someone else. 

Common Injuries From Being Dropped or Mishandled At Birth

Although research suggests dropping an infant happens only rarely, the available numbers are likely underestimated as a nurse or physician is not likely to admit to dropping an infant if he or she was not observed doing so. There are even accounts of doctors dropping infants and denying it until being shown video evidence captured by a parent or grandparent recording the event. 

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Chicago birth injury lawyerA delivery room in an Illinois hospital’s maternity ward is a joyful but chaotic place during and after childbirth. So many things are happening at once, and while most doctors and nurses do an excellent job of managing their responsibilities to a mother and newborn, some medical practitioners fail to do so. In the hubbub of an infant’s post-delivery care, hospital staff may forget to administer vaccines, an essential line of defense against serious illnesses for newborns.

Infants, whose immune systems are underdeveloped and require assistance to fight off many potentially fatal illnesses, can be seriously injured and even killed without proper vaccination. If your infant fell ill and you believe your doctor failed to vaccinate him or her, read on. 

Which Immunizations Are Standard in Illinois? 

Children are subject to a rigorous vaccine schedule as part of routine childhood healthcare. Immediately after birth, infants are given Hepatitis B and vitamin K shots. Over the next year, children also receive vaccinations against:

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Chicago birth injury lawyerBirth injuries in Illinois children may only take a brief moment to occur but they can be an ongoing source of parental stress, developmental challenges, and medical expenses for many years and even for a child’s entire life. Sometimes, signs that a child has suffered from a birth injury may be immediately present; other times, symptoms do not appear until a child has gotten old enough for certain developmental delays to become clear.

No matter when a birth injury becomes apparent, obtaining proper treatment is essential for avoiding long-term complications that may affect a child forever. Here are common symptoms of birth injuries that can appear in different stages of childhood development. Even if you are unsure whether your child may be manifesting symptoms, get a professional opinion so you can take action if necessary - and then contact an experienced Illinois birth injuries attorney who can help you hold the responsible party or parties accountable. 

Infant Birth Injury Symptoms 

Some birth injuries, like physical injuries caused by improper forceps use, may become apparent immediately. Others may appear several hours, days, or weeks after birth. Immediate symptoms include, but are not limited to: 

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Chicago birth injury attorneyGenerally, our brain uses its electrical signals in an organized fashion, sending messages from one part of the brain to another and allowing us to move our limbs, talk, think, and carry out daily activities. However, for people who have epilepsy, seizures are caused by sudden, uncontrolled bursts of electrical activity within the brain, causing normal thought patterns and certain physical functioning to shut down until the seizure ends. 

The causes and severity of epilepsy can vary dramatically. Some people have mild seizures from time to time while others experience severe seizures much more often. While the exact cause of epilepsy is sometimes unknown, certain birth injuries during pregnancy or childbirth can make seizures more likely throughout a child’s life. 

What Kinds of Birth Injuries Cause Seizures? 

Some of the conditions that cause seizures are inevitable, even with the best medical care. Others, however, occur because of careless or negligent behavior on the part of doctors, nurses, or midwives. Birth injuries that may cause seizures include, but are not limited to:

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Chicago birth injury lawyersParents of children who have been injured or killed during a traumatic childbirth in Illinois are often left reeling and desperate for answers to difficult questions. How did this happen? Could it have been avoided? Is anyone responsible? Determining answers to those questions can be quite difficult, especially because it is not always immediately clear whether the child is suffering from a birth injury or a birth defect. While these terms sound similar, they describe very different issues, and it is important to understand what each means as you seek a resolution for your and your child’s suffering. 

What is a Birth Defect? 

A birth defect is a congenital abnormality that can occur for several reasons, all of them having to do with the genetic development of an unborn infant. A birth defect can happen for no apparent reason; sometimes when genes copy themselves, they make small mistakes that can lead to tragic consequences. Other times, a birth defect happens because of a parent’s exposure to substances, such as alcohol or cigarette smoke, that cause a developing infant’s genes to change and function incorrectly. Examples of common birth defects include, but are not limited to: 

  • Clubfoot
  • Cleft palate and cleft lip
  • Down syndrome
  • Hypospadias
  • Congenital heart defects 

What is a Birth Injury? 

A healthy developing infant or newborn can suffer a birth injury when problems occur during pregnancy or childbirth. Sometimes, birth injuries are the result of unavoidable complications. Other times, however, birth injuries are the result of negligence on the part of the infant’s healthcare providers. Infants can be injured during birth in many ways, including: 

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Chicago birth injury attorneyPregnancy and childbirth present significant health challenges to both Illinois mothers and their infants. While many things have the potential to go wrong, most children are born safely and in good health. Unfortunately, there are occasions where either the mother or child is injured for a variety of reasons; sometimes, these birth injuries cannot be helped even with the best medical care. However, other times, injuries are caused or worsened because a mother’s obstetric team fails to appropriately respond to medical emergencies. One such emergency is shoulder dystocia, a condition in which one or both of an infant’s shoulders become stuck during labor. To learn more about shoulder dystocia and its consequences, read on. 

What is Shoulder Dystocia and How Does it Happen? 

Usually, an infant’s head is the most difficult part of the body to push out of the vaginal canal during labor. Once the head emerges, the shoulders and the rest of the body generally follow right away. Sometimes, however, one or both shoulders can become stuck in the mother’s pelvis.

While overall rates of shoulder dystocia are low, certain risk factors include: 

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Chicago birth injury attorneyWhen a pregnant woman prepares to give birth, her body releases a hormone called oxytocin. While oxytocin plays an important role in developing feelings of love and bonding in mammals, it also makes the uterus contract during labor. Strong, regular uterine contractions are essential not only for pushing out the baby, but also for ensuring the entire placenta is expelled and preventing postpartum hemorrhaging. 

When labor is prolonged, or if it has not started at all, there can be health risks to the mother and the infant. To speed up labor, sometimes a drug known as pitocin can be given to the mother. Pitocin is a synthetic drug that mimics oxytocin, and while it is usually used without harmful effects, it can cause serious problems to an infant if it is used incorrectly. If your infant has been injured because of pitocin, consider speaking with a birth injuries attorney as soon as possible. 

Potential Harmful Effects of Pitocin

The most serious risk from pitocin overuse is that contractions will become too strong. Intense contractions can hurt the uterus and the placenta, sometimes causing the placenta to detach from the wall of the uterus too soon. Contractions can also put pressure on the umbilical cord, causing the baby’s oxygen flow to be diminished or cut off. Even a brief period without oxygen can cause serious brain damage and even death

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Chicago cerebral palsy injury lawyersBecause of the complexity and unpredictability of symptoms of cerebral palsy in young children, parents often struggle to manage the various treatment options and their effectiveness. Research is continually being done on how cerebral palsy can be treated and managed and one treatment that may be helpful for some children whose cerebral palsy has caused a leg length discrepancy is leg lengthening treatment. Research has shown that leg lengthening treatment can be an effective way to manage the difficulties of a leg length discrepancy, but it also has serious risks and parents should consider this option carefully before committing their child to this procedure. 

What Are the Symptoms of a Leg Length Discrepancy? 

Leg length discrepancies resulting from cerebral palsy exist at birth, but often do not become apparent until a child is old enough to move by herself. They may be difficult to diagnose because a discrepancy may be small enough to be unnoticeable but still cause significant delays in walking, running, and jumping. 

 While a mild leg length discrepancy may not cause any serious impediment to a child’s movement and can often be treated with orthotics, a more significant discrepancy can cause problems that range from making walking somewhat difficult to being quite painful and causing serious mobility problems. Significant leg length discrepancies can cause back, knee, and hip problems, including scoliosis and fatigue. It may also be difficult to find clothes that fit your child right. 

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Chicago birth injury lawyer Cerebral palsy is a complex group of disorders caused by brain damage that has a wide variety of symptoms. Usually, the damage that causes cerebral palsy occurs during early development before a child is born. However, sometimes cerebral palsy can result from medical malpractice during birth because of issues like delayed delivery, improper use of assistive tools like forceps, and breech birth. If you recently found out that your child has cerebral palsy, you may want to know more about what this diagnosis might mean for you and your loved one. Here are some of the most common medical issues that children with cerebral palsy may have. 

Difficulty Swallowing (Dysphagia)

Dysphagia is difficulty swallowing caused by weakness or dysfunction of muscles involved in the swallowing process. Dysphagia can occur in the back of the throat or lower down in the esophagus. Children with dysphagia often struggle to chew, feel pain when they swallow, or get food stuck in their throat. Dysphagia can be painful for children and frightening for their parents because it can be difficult to diagnose and treat unless it presents with other symptoms. Depending on the severity of the condition, a feeding tube may be necessary to ensure a child gets their nutritional needs met. 

Movement and Coordination Issues

Children with cerebral palsy often suffer from various difficulties controlling their movement. The most common disorder is spasticity, or uncontrolled muscle stiffening, but other common disorders include exaggerated reflexes, difficulty balancing, hand-eye coordination, and difficulty with precise movements like buttoning a shirt. Some children have only very mild mobility issues and can move independently while others use wheelchairs their entire lives. 

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Chicago birth defect injury attorneyDepression and anxiety are extremely common in Illinois residents, with more people than ever now seeking therapy and medication to treat these disorders. Living with depression and anxiety can be crippling, and finding out you are pregnant can increase your nervousness and worries. Balancing a mother’s health and wellbeing with potential risks to a developing fetus can be tricky, and this is perhaps never more true than when a doctor is giving a pregnant mother medication. 

While most medications for depression and anxiety are safe for infants in utero, some medications have side effects that may cause serious harm to a developing baby. Doctors sometimes have to make difficult choices about medication, the mother’s health, and the infant’s risk of developing birth defects. When a doctor is careless or negligent about writing prescriptions for a pregnant mother, they may make medication errors and the effects on a baby can be devastating. 

Weighing the Risks 

While doctors generally do not think most mood-regulating drugs cause birth defects, some medications are safer than others. Drugs that may be a cause for concern during pregnancy include, but are not limited to: 

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Chicago premature birth injury lawyerInfants who are born prematurely face a challenging set of health and developmental hurdles that their fully-developed peers do not. Doctors, nurses, and other neonatal care staff must provide the highest standard of care to ensure that prematurely born babies are given the tender care and cautious monitoring that they need during this fragile stage of life. Unfortunately, carelessness or negligent mistakes can contribute to neonatal injuries and death, leaving bereaved parents with an overwhelming feeling of confusion or loss. 

Negligence and Neonatal Intensive Care

The vulnerability of prematurely born infants naturally exposes them to risks and dangers. Sometimes, even with the best care possible, babies are seriously injured or die. But when doctors and other medical providers make ICU errors, parents may be able to recover damages in a medical malpractice lawsuit. Common examples of neonatal ICU errors include: 

  • Failure to diagnose or treat a condition 
  • Failure to appropriately monitor an infant’s heart rate
  • Failure to order tests, or incorrectly interpreting tests
  • Errors with medical equipment, such as ventilators and intubators 
  • Failure to prevent, diagnose, or treat infections 
  • Medication errors, especially wrong dosage 
  • Improper charting or record-keeping 

Even in healthy adults, these mistakes can cause serious problems; in premature infants, however, a small error can quickly snowball into dangerous territory. 

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Chicago birth injury lawyerWomen in Illinois who experience a miscarriage often experience overwhelming grief, trauma, and physical pain. While miscarriage is a fairly common experience, that does not make it any easier if it happens to you or someone you love. Beyond the sadness of the loss of a life that a mother may already feel she knows and loves, miscarriages can also be extremely painful and result in additional physical complications. Although most miscarriages happen naturally, sometimes they occur because of the careless actions of a doctor or hospital. When this happens, parents may wonder whether they can take legal action. 

What Causes Miscarriages? 

Miscarriages happen for many reasons, most of which are spontaneous and occur because something has gone wrong in the developmental process. Common causes of miscarriages include, but are not limited to:

  • Abnormal fetal development, including genetic problems 
  • Misplaced pregnancy, such as a molar or ectopic pregnancy 
  • Hemorrhaging
  • Illness and infection in the mother’s body, even if it occurs outside of the reproductive organs 
  • Invasive prenatal testing 
  • Physical trauma 
  • Mediations, including ones that are known to cause birth defects 

While some of these are unavoidable, others - such as a doctor who prescribes medication despite knowing that the chance of fatal birth defects is high, especially when better options are available - may cause an avoidable miscarriage. Other times, doctors may be responsible for miscarriages when they do not appropriately recognize risk factors for miscarriages and fail to guide a woman appropriately in her behavior during pregnancy, up to and including childbirth. 

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Chicago maternal injury lawyersPregnancy and childbirth are difficult processes that present significant dangers to Illinois women. Certain behaviors from a woman’s obstetric healthcare providers, such as negligence or malpractice, can seriously compound these dangers to the point that women may suffer from life-threatening injuries and maternal mortality

One leading cause of maternal mortality is that of maternal sepsis - a dangerous infection that generally begins in a woman’s uterus and triggers a full-body immune response system severe enough to injure organs and other bodily tissues. While sepsis is generally more dangerous to women who already suffer from other health issues, it can injure and kill healthy women as well. If a woman you love has been injured or killed by sepsis after childbirth because of medical malpractice, you may want to meet with an experienced Illinois maternal mortality attorney. 

How Common is Maternal Sepsis? 

While maternal sepsis is fairly rare, it is common enough around the world and even in developed countries that the World Health Organization has placed special focus on procedures that will help recognize and eliminate cases. While maternal sepsis is only estimated to occur in .04 percent of American pregnancies, it accounts for 23 percent of maternal deaths. Because some women suffer from sepsis several weeks after childbirth and do not die in a hospital setting, these numbers likely do not reflect the true prevalence of sepsis-related maternal mortality. 

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Chicago birth injury lawyerThe birth of a child is a wonderful experience for most parents, but it comes with significant risks and dangers to mothers. Maternal mortality in the United States is significantly higher than other developed nations with comparable health systems, and neglectful or careless acts on the part of healthcare providers can seriously endanger the health and even the life of a mother before, during, and after childbirth. 

One rare but potentially lethal risk to Illinois mothers during childbirth is that of an amniotic fluid embolism. An amniotic fluid embolism occurs when the amniotic fluid surrounding a baby in the mother’s uterus gets into the mother’s bloodstream. It can be difficult to know whether an amniotic fluid embolism has occurred and doctors must be on the alert for signs of a potential embolism so treatment can be secured immediately. If a doctor misses obvious signs of an amniotic fluid embolism or fails to order effective treatment, the mother can suffer serious health complications, including death. If your wife or partner was injured or died from this condition, you may want to meet with an experienced Illinois maternal mortality lawyer. 

How Does an Amniotic Fluid Embolism Happen? 

When trauma during childbirth causes the barrier between the placenta and the mother’s body to break down, amniotic fluid or other fetal material can get into the mother’s bloodstream. The mother’s body then responds by producing an extreme inflammatory response, which can create blood clots in the mother’s blood vessels. If these blood clots reach the lungs, heart, or brain, they can be fatal. 

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Chicago birth injury attorneysWhile the birth of a child is typically a joyous event for parents, it carries serious risks to both an infant and her mother. One rare but potentially debilitating risk is periventricular leukomalacia, or PVL, which can occur when brain tissue is injured or dies. While the cause of PVL can be difficult to determine, a lack of blood flow to the brain during childbirth is clearly linked to PVL and PVL is much more common in preterm infants. 

Doctors and nurses in Illinois who are delivering an infant or caring for a pregnant mother must be aware of any risks that could contribute to the development of PVL. If your infant has suffered from periventricular leukomalacia, you may want the help of an experienced Illinois birth injuries attorney. 

What is Periventricular Leukomalacia? 

PVL is when damage occurs to the white brain tissue near fluid-filled chambers in the brain known as ventricles. White matter in the brain acts as an agent of communication between nerve cells, the spinal cord, and different parts of the brain. Damaged white matter can cause growth and motor function issues in young children, including cerebral palsy and learning disorders. 

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Chicago birth injury lawyersEvery day, parents in Illinois experience the joy of welcoming their newborn into their arms. For some parents, however, what should be an exciting experience turns into a nightmare when a delivery becomes complicated and an infant suffers severe injuries or death. Spinal cord injuries during childbirth are rare, but they have life-threatening consequences for babies who suffer from them. A lifetime of intensive medical care may be necessary, and your child may never be able to live independently. If your infant suffered from an avoidable spinal cord injury during childbirth because of negligent medical care, consider getting help from an Illinois birth injury lawyer. 

Neonatal Spinal Cord Injuries 

While spinal cord injuries do not happen often, when they do happen, they nearly always have catastrophic consequences. Right away, doctors and parents may notice an alarming lack of movement, loss of reflexes, breathing issues, and no response to painful stimuli. Many infants who suffer from spinal cord injuries ultimately pass away, and those who live generally have long-term consequences that include: 

  • Paralysis
  • Limb weakness
  • Respiratory insufficiency
  • Hypercapnia, or the buildup of carbon dioxide in the bloodstream 
  • Swallowing dysfunction or other reflex problems

The emotional and financial cost of managing spinal cord injuries and related conditions can be an overwhelming burden to parents who may find themselves caring for their child around the clock forever. Caregiver burnout, financial distress, and other similar problems are common.

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Chicago cerebral palsy birth injury lawyerCerebral palsy is a complex group of neural disorders that can cause weakness or damage to the development and function of someone’s brain and how it communicates with his or her muscles. Different people exhibit different symptoms of cerebral palsy, and the effects can range from mild difficulties when walking to permanently debilitating intellectual or physical conditions that require full-time care.

Cerebral palsy can be caused by many factors before, during, and after birth when a child’s brain is rapidly developing. Most cases of cerebral palsy are thought to be congenital, meaning they develop through no fault of the child’s parents or healthcare providers. In some cases, however, poor medical treatment during childbirth can cause birth injuries that cause cerebral palsy. If you are worried that your child has suffered brain damage because of the negligent or careless actions of your provider, read on. 

Causes of Cerebral Palsy During Childbirth

Because an infant’s brain is still developing, brain trauma is significantly more hazardous to a baby than it would be to an adult. Medical providers should be aware of risk factors that can put a child at breast risk of developing cerebral palsy, including: 

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Chicago birth injury lawyerPregnant women in Illinois are at an increased risk of many injuries and diseases. Every year, around 700 women in the United States die as a result of pregnancy or childbirth, and experts estimate well over half of these deaths could be prevented with proper medical care. 

Preeclampsia is a particularly dangerous condition that tends to happen later in pregnancy. Left undiagnosed and untreated, preeclampsia can cause serious complications and birth injuries that can be fatal for a mother and her child. It is crucial for maternal medical caregivers to recognize signs of preeclampsia early and monitor patients very carefully. When an Illinois doctor fails to diagnose preeclampsia and the mother or child suffers, it may be possible to successfully claim damages in a medical malpractice lawsuit. 

Understanding the Risks of Preeclampsia

Preeclampsia is a medical condition characterized by high blood pressure coupled with abnormally high protein levels in urine and swelling throughout the body. Usually, preeclampsia does not appear until after 20 weeks, although it can come earlier than that and, rarely, even after delivery. Preeclampsia is thought to happen when new blood vessels responsible for nourishing the infant during pregnancy do not develop correctly. They do not allow enough blood to flow through them, causing high blood pressure throughout the rest of the mother’s body. 

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