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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 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 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 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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Cook County birth injury attorney cerebral palsy

There are multiple different types of complications that can affect both mothers and children during pregnancy, labor, and delivery. Cerebral palsy is one of the most serious issues that can occur because of birth injuries, and this condition can affect all types of children and families. However, some studies have revealed troubling statistics that indicate that cerebral palsy is more prevalent among Black children than white children. Because of these racial disparities, Black parents of children with cerebral palsy will want to understand the potential causes of their children’s condition and the steps they can take to provide for their children’s needs.

Possible Reasons for Racial Disparities in Children With Cerebral Palsy 

The key study that found these racial disparities was conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and it looked at children in a geographical area who had been diagnosed with spastic cerebral palsy that resulted because of brain injuries that occurred before or during a child’s birth. While the study found that the overall prevalence of cerebral palsy had not changed over time, Black children born at normal birth weight and at full term were more likely to experience cerebral palsy than white children in the same circumstances. Notably, the study found that Black and white children with a very low birth rate were equally likely to experience cerebral palsy. However, racial disparities play a role in these cases as well, since other studies have found that Black children are nearly twice as likely as white children to be born with low birth weight.

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Chicago medical malpractice attorney birth injury

Even though childbirth is a commonplace event, it can still be dangerous. Multiple different types of complications can occur during labor and delivery, and they should be addressed properly to prevent birth injuries to children or maternal injuries to the mother. One issue that can increase the risk of injury is the use of drugs to induce labor if a woman does not go into labor on her own, and it is past her due date. While Pitocin is commonly used for this purpose, it has been found to cause complications related to hyperstimulation of the uterus.

When Is Pitocin Used?

Pitocin is a synthetic form of the hormone oxytocin, which induces contractions in the uterus. Pitocin may be used to induce labor in pregnancies that have progressed beyond 40 weeks, and it may also be administered to speed up labor or help avoid complications if labor has stalled. Pitocin will only be effective if a mother’s cervix is favorable for labor and has begun to soften and dilate.

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Cook County birth injury attorney cerebral palsy

If your child suffers from cerebral palsy, you will want to understand how you can provide the best care for your son or daughter. One issue that parents may be concerned about is whether their child will need assistance with feeding and nutrition. Studies have found that within their first year of life, 57 percent of children with cerebral palsy have problems with sucking, and 38 percent have problems with swallowing. In addition, over 90 percent of children with CP have significant oral motor dysfunction. Because of these issues, children may require intervention to ensure they receive the proper nutrition, and in some cases, a feeding tube may be necessary.

G-Tube Placement

Feeding tubes that deliver food and liquids directly to a child’s stomach are known as gastronomy tubes or G-tubes. A surgical procedure will be performed to create an opening known as a stoma in the abdomen and the wall of the stomach, and the tube will be inserted through this opening. A child will usually be placed under general anesthesia during this type of surgery. Depending on the child’s needs and whether other surgical procedures need to be performed at the same time, laparoscopic techniques may be used to insert the tube through small incisions, or open surgery involving larger incisions may be necessary. 

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Chicago birth injury attorney cerebral palsy

Parents of children with cerebral palsy often face an overwhelming amount of information. Fully understanding how this condition has affected their child’s growth and development can be daunting, and making choices about the types of treatment a child should receive is often difficult. When surgical intervention is recommended to lengthen the muscles or tendons in the legs, parents should thoroughly discuss this option with medical providers to determine whether it will be an effective treatment for their child and whether it will cause any complications in the future. 

Orthopedic Surgery Options and Considerations

In some cases, leg lengthening surgery may be used to correct a difference in length between a child’s legs, or it may help address spasticity or severe muscle contracture, improving a child’s gait and allowing them to walk independently. Surgery may also be recommended after a patient has undergone a selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR).

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Cook County medical malpractice attorney cerebral palsy

Children with cerebral palsy (CP) may require a wide variety of treatments and assistive devices. Leg braces are often used to improve mobility and correct deformities, but while these devices can provide a number of benefits, they also present challenges for parents and children alike. As the winter months approach, parents may be wondering about their options for winter boots that will provide children with protection from the elements while fitting over braces and allowing for easy, comfortable movement.

Footwear and Orthotics

Braces worn on the feet and legs are known as orthotics, and these devices can help address the issues experienced by those with CP, such as rigid muscles, spasticity, or low muscle tone. Orthotics can provide support and stability and improve a child’s ability to sit, stand, and walk. They can also be used to correct or prevent deformities in the muscles and bones, and they can help improve muscle strength and reduce missteps, hyperextensions, and accidents.

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Chicago medical negligence attorney birth injury

Cerebral palsy (CP) refers to a neurological condition or disorder that affects an individual’s muscles and movement. This can manifest in several different ways, from spastic movements to hearing loss to the inability to walk without assistance. In many cases, it inhibits a person’s ability to move and maintain balance and posture. CP is generally caused by abnormal brain development or damage to a developing brain in utero. This type of injury can be caused by a lack of oxygen during prolonged labor and other complications during childbirth. One of the many issues that CP sufferers face is trouble sleeping, and this is especially evident in children who have CP. 

Tips for Bedtime

Parenting can be exhausting no matter what, but for parents who have a special needs child, it can take an even bigger toll. Daily routines are important for creating and maintaining healthy habits, including sleeping at naptime or bedtime. Seizures, muscle spasms, pain, breathing difficulties, or gastrointestinal issues can all inhibit sleeping patterns in younger people with CP. 

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Cook County birth injury attorney developmental disabilities

All parents are concerned about issues that may affect their children’s health, and one recent study highlights some troubling trends regarding developmental disabilities. Scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) found that the rates of these types of disabilities among children increased between 2009 and 2017. Parents will not only want to be aware of the prevalence of these types of health concerns, but they should understand whether birth injuries may have led to disabilities that impact their children’s well-being.

Birth Injuries and Developmental Disabilities

During this study, researchers looked at parent-reported data from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) to determine the percentage of children between the ages of 3 and 17 diagnosed with developmental disabilities. During the period of 2009-2011, this percentage was 16.2 percent, but the percentage increased to 17.8 percent in the period of 2015-2017. Additionally, the study found that boys were more likely than girls to be diagnosed with a developmental disability, and disabilities were more likely to affect children in rural areas and those with public health insurance than children in urban areas and those with private insurance.

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Cook County birth injury attorney skull fracture

The process of labor and delivery can sometimes put strain on the body of a child. During a vaginal delivery, a child’s head must pass through the birth canal, which can put significant pressure on the skull and brain. While the bones of a newborn’s skull have not yet fused together, allowing for some flexibility during birth, delivery can still cause compression to the child’s head, and in some cases, an infant may experience a skull fracture.

A fractured skull can be very dangerous for a newborn, and it can cause permanent brain damage and lead to a variety of other complications. If a fracture results in the bones of the skull pressing into the child’s brain tissue, this can result in conditions such as cystic encephalomalacia. Bleeding around the brain can cut off blood flow, leading to neonatal stroke or hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). Damage to the brain can cause permanent conditions such as cerebral palsy (CP).

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Cook County medical malpractice attorney birth injury

Every expectant mother hopes that her delivery will go as smoothly as possible. However, complications during the birthing process sometimes necessitate the use of special procedures and equipment that may present a risk to the baby. Vacuum extraction or vacuum-assisted delivery is a procedure used during a vaginal delivery when a baby needs help traveling through the birth canal. A device called a vacuum extractor creates suction on the baby’s head and allows the doctor to gently pull the infant out while the mother pushes. Although vacuum extraction is a common procedure, it is also associated with an increased risk of serious, sometimes life-threatening birth injuries.

Why Is a Vacuum Extractor Used During Labor and Delivery?

If labor is not progressing normally, a vacuum extractor may be used to encourage the baby through the birth canal. Vacuum extraction is often used when a mother experiences ruptured membranes or trouble pushing the baby out. Atypical heart rate indicating infant distress may also prompt an obstetrician to use vacuum extraction. This procedure is typically not recommended if a woman is less than 34 weeks pregnant, the infant suffers from certain health conditions such as hemophilia or osteogenesis imperfecta, the baby is in a breech position, or if the baby’s head is too big to fit through the mother’s pelvis.

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Illinois medical negligence attorney

cesarean section, or “C-section” for short, refers to a surgical procedure during which an infant is born via an incision in the woman’s abdomen. An emergency C-section typically occurs when a mother planned to give birth vaginally, but unexpected complications make a C-section the safer choice. Doctors and medical staff are trained to recognize signs of fetal or maternal distress that may indicate a C-section is needed. In some cases, a physician’s failure to perform a necessary C-section may lead to serious birth injuries and even fetal or maternal death.

Medical Complications That Can Lead to an Emergency C-Section

Just under one-third of U.S. mothers who gave birth to a child in 2017 did so via cesarean delivery. Choosing to deliver a baby naturally or undergo a C-section is a very personal decision for expectant mothers. Many women understandably have strong feelings about whether or not they want their baby delivered surgically. Unfortunately, some expectant mothers do not have the birth experience they had hoped for because unexpected medical complications arise. A cesarean section is typically considered to be a riskier delivery method than vaginal birth. However, when a mother and her baby are in danger, this may be the best way to prevent birth injuries or fetal death. Some medical issues that may require an unplanned C-section include:

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Cook County cerebral palsy birth injury attorney

If you are a parent of a child with cerebral palsy (CP), you know just how difficult it can be to watch your child suffer from CP symptoms. Children with CP caused by a birth injury may experience trouble controlling their movements, problems with walking and coordination, difficulty swallowing, pain, and much more. Each CP case is very different. Some sufferers only experience mild symptoms that have a manageable effect on their everyday lives, while other CP sufferers endure symptoms that are completely incapacitating. As a parent of a child with cerebral palsy, you may wonder if any medical procedures can help your child gain control over CP symptoms. Surgery is not right for everyone, but some CP patients find that surgical interventions such as the ones described below improve their mobility, independence, and overall quality of life. 

Procedures That Can Alleviate CP Symptoms

The most challenging symptoms for many cerebral palsy patients are muscle spasticity and stiffness. Orthopedic surgery on a CP patient’s arms, wrists, legs, or feet may help correct alignment issues, enhance motor functioning, and increase the patient’s overall control over his or her movements. Surgical procedures may also be able to address CP symptoms such as curvature of the spine (scoliosis), spinal deformities, tremors, gastrointestinal distress, hearing difficulties, joint problems, hip dislocation, and pain. As with any type of surgery, there are certain risks associated with CP surgeries, including complications with anesthesia, infections, and excessive bleeding. A doctor may recommend surgery to a CP patient if he or she believes that the benefits of the surgery will outweigh the risks. In many cases, non-invasive treatments such as physical therapy, medications, muscle injections, and orthotic devices are usually performed before surgery is considered an option.

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Cook County birth injury attorney cerebral palsy

Cerebral palsy (CP) is a disorder that negatively affects a person’s ability to control his or her movements. An individual with CP may experience rigidity or limpness of the limbs and trunk, atypical posture, reduced balance and coordination, involuntary movements, exaggerated reflexes, and other physical problems. Cerebral palsy can be caused by a number of different factors, including birth injuries. Someone who has CP can have difficulty with walking, swallowing, sight, and more. Understandably, many parents of children with CP wish to do everything they can to find ways to alleviate their children’s symptoms so that they can live as normal a life as possible. One treatment option that many parents of children with CP are exploring is Botox injections.

How Does Botox Help?

You have probably heard about Botox injections being used cosmetically to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. However, the drug has many other uses as well. Botox is the brand name of a “botulinum toxin A,” which is a substance created by bacteria. The substance is a potent neurotoxin; however, when small amounts are injected locally, it can be used for medical or cosmetic purposes. Botox has the effect of weakening or paralyzing muscles by blocking nerves from firing. This may help to relax muscles and therefore decrease pain in some CP patients.

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Cook County birth injury attorney cerebral palsy

If you have a child with cerebral palsy, you already know the typical symptoms. Cerebral palsy can cause problems with movement, posture, walking, breathing, sensory processing, and swallowing, as well as serious pain, seizures, and a myriad of other issues. One symptom that has caused many restless nights for children with cerebral palsy and their parents is difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. Research shows that up to 46 percent of children with CP have sleep problems that interfere with their quality of life. Experts suggest that parents of children with cerebral palsy try the following tips to help their children get the adequate rest they need:

Reduce Noise and Other Sensory Input Before Bed

Infants are born with a heightened reaction to sudden noises called the Moro reflex or “startle reflex.” Typically, this reflex lessens as the child ages, but children with cerebral palsy often retain the strong response to noise long after infancy. This can make children especially reactive to abrupt or loud noises. Even something as simple as a radio playing in another room may be enough to keep a child with CP tossing and turning. One of the best ways to help your child sleep may be to ensure that the child’s home is a quiet, non-stimulating environment.

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