Articles Posted in Brain Injuries from Birth

The Republic reported this week on a settlement reached in a brain injury case, where a couple alleged the injury to their new child was caused by negligence on the part of their midwives. The family had hired the two women to lead the birth of their child, and they actually had the delivery outside of the hospital with the two midwives (a mother and daughter) in charge. Unfortunately, the couple did not receive the care to which they believe they were entitled.

The family explained that problems developed during the birth almost four years ago. The child was born without oxygen. This caused the child to suffer a serious brain injury. Unfortunately, the midwives did not act quickly in responding to the emergency situation. Apparently they delayed in allowing emergency responders access to the mother and child. As a result of these errors the new child suffered permanent brain damage and will likely be forced to live with the consequences of the injury for the rest of her life.

Like many families in similar situations, the couple shared their story with a brain injury lawyer. Eventually a negligence suit was filed seeking to hold the midwives accountable for the harm caused to the child. The case recently settled outside of court for $5 million. The midwives explained that they wanted to avoid the need to go through the costly, expensive jury trial process.

Illinois brain injuries caused via developmental problems in the womb or via a birth injury often have lifelong consequences for the children involved. Cerebral palsy is perhaps the most well-known brain injury among infants with thousands of sufferers throughout our area. Our Illinois cerebral palsy lawyer knows it goes without saying that as many resources as possible should be targeted at ways to prevent these harms from ever occurring in the first place.

Fortunately, many leading medical minds are working on some of these problems. Every day they get a little closer to ways that can prevent these brain injuries in the unborn. For example, researchers in Australia have recently completed a new trial that may save the unborn from developing these brain injuries that caused cerebral palsy. As reported this week in the Canberra Times, experts at the Monash Medical Center are beginning the world’s first trial involving the use of antioxidants to treat pregnant woman whose children are not developing normally. Doctors suggest that the goal of the trial is to prevent the children from suffering brain damage while in the womb.

In particular, the trial targeted the roughly one in twenty women whose placentas are not providing sufficient oxygen and nutrients for the developing child. This problem leads to growth restrictions in the baby’s development. Experts explain that this is a common cause of brain injuries in development that cause cerebral palsy. Scientists have found that this problem is caused by oxidative stress which leads to the release of free radicals-excess chemicals that damage normal tissue.

Nothing in the medical field remains as mysterious as the brain. It is only in the very recent past that medical researchers and scientists have begun to slowly figure out how some of the brain works. However, the brain injury attorneys at our firm appreciate that it would be a mistake to forget that there are still more unanswered questions than there are answered ones.

That point is exhibited clearly in the case of nine-year old Jason Egan. According to a story in the Huffington Post this week, medical experts and some of the world’s leading neurogeneticists still are not sure what brain injury or condition is affecting the young child. The boy seemed to have the brain injury at birth. At a young age he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy after exhibiting symptoms similar to those faced by cerebral palsy sufferers.

Our Illinois cerebral palsy lawyers have often shared that cerebral palsy (CP) can be caused by oxygen deprivation at birth. When problems develop during childbirth that limit the oxygen to neurons in the brain, permanent injuries can develop which cause a range of physical problems for the child. CP is an umbrella term that refers to a wide range of movement disorders often caused by that brain damage. Sufferers usually fall upon a spectrum, with various difficulties hearing, seeing, standing, walking, speaking, and controlling limbs. Experts explain that the condition can manifest itself as early as three month old, when children struggle to crawl. Usually after a year or two it becomes even clearer if a child is suffering from the condition.

Many brain injuries develop just before or just after a child is born. These birth injuries are frequently preventable and often traced by to inadequate care being provided by medical teams. When they are rooted in mistakes made by doctors and nurses during delivery, then medical malpractice lawsuits are often appropriate to hold the negligent party accountable for their actions and to ensure the brain-injured child has access to resources to receive support for their injury throughout their lives.

Those exact circumstances and goals are at the heart of a new brain injury lawsuit filed by a couple alleging mistakes were made during the birth of their son which led to his brain injuries. According to a story about the case in the Morning Sun, the mother first went to the medical facility after having a relatively healthy, normal pregnancy. She visited her medical provider on several occasions and no problems were found. After 38 weeks of pregnancy the mother and doctor decided to have the labor induced-this was not an abnormal time for induction.

The mother was a bit nervous about the procedure from the outset. In particular she was worried about the inducement drugs like Misoprostol and Oxytocin. The doctor told her not to worry about the drugs, and that everything would be fine-a prediction that would turn out to be grievously wrong.

Each Chicago brain injury attorney at our firm has followed closely as research efforts into traumatic brain injuries have seen a new wave of life. This is likely due to a combination of factors. On one hand, medical professionals are slowly learning more and more about the actual long-term harm of certain injuries-like concussions-that were previously thought to be less severe. In addition, a large number of American service members are returning from fights in Iraq and Afghanistan with severe head and brain injuries. Many are rightly worried that these returning soldiers need to have access to viable treatment options that can help relieve some of the symptoms of their injuries.

Beyond treatment options for adults, an entirely different line of traumatic brain injury research is looking at helping the youngest victims-those who suffer head trauma in the first few months (or years) of life. For example, the San Bruno Patch reported this week on a new line of research being funded by the Federal Drug Administration’s stem cell research project. The effort involves partnerships between a private company that collects umbilical cord stem cells and university medical research bodies.

The company, Cord Blood Registry, has been collecting the umbilical cord blood from mothers of newborns for the past few years. The hope is that these stem cells can be used to help correct a wide range of problems that affect children at birth or shortly thereafter. Specifically, this latest project involves tackling three different problems-cerebral palsy, hearing loss, and traumatic brain injuries.

The Standard-Examiner shared a heartwarming story today that highlights both advances in brain injury treatment and the way that fast action by medical providers can save the lives of our most vulnerable patients. At the center of the story is a young family who just had their first child. The baby girl seemed to be fine immediately after the delivery. A mother, father, and grandparents were all gathered in the hospital room with the baby after her delivery, in good spirits as they passed the child around so everyone could get a chance to meet the new addition.

However, a few hours after the birth, as the mother was holding the child, something went wrong. As she placed the baby on her chest, the mother sensed that something was amiss. She pulled the baby away and noticed that she was completely limp and turning blue. It was clear that the child was not breathing. The woman’s father immediately ran out of the room and yelled for help. Two nurses rushed in and took the child down the hall. Once there, a team of medical experts went to work trying to resuscitate the baby. She was eventually hooked up to a ventilator.

One of the main concerns in these situations, when one is not breathing, is the potential effect of lack of oxygen to the brain. Many brain injuries-particularly those affecting young children-are caused when the brain does not receive oxygen for a prolonged length of time. Fortunately, the doctors at this hospital were trained in a new technique which seeks to prevent permanent brain damage as a result of oxygen deprivation. Shortly after the child was stabilized, she was placed in a device known as a “cooling cap.” The cap essentially works a controlled induction of hypothermia. The cap uses water enclosed in a tube system to circulate water around the head. Computers monitor the temperature to ensure it remains at desired levels. The treatment last for 72 hours.

Our Chicago brain injury lawyers know that one of the claims that those advocating “tort reform” make is that the legal system is too inefficient and costly to handle most claims. They suggest that these proposals are a more logical, stream-lined and fair ways to handle disputes. Of course, they are nothing of the sort. Instead, these laws do not make the legal system more streamlined-they simply throw up more roadblocks for recovery for those hurt by the misconduct of others, including Illinois brain injury victims.

However, because so much political debate these days occurs only in sound bites-and not reasoned consideration of actual policy issues-it is difficult for most members of the public to truly analyze how these bills will affect them. For most, the only time that they experience the effects of these damaging pieces of legislation is when they themselves are hurt or have a family member who seeks help from the legal system to hold those who harmed them accountable. It is then that the true effects are felt and the injustice of the rule changes are made apparent.

It is our hope that by continuing to share stories of those who are adversely effected by misguided tort reform laws that more people will begin to fight back against the political efforts of those seeking to alter the legal system in fundamental ways-and not for the better.

The Yale Daily News published an article this week that caught the eye of our Chicago brain injury lawyers about new information regarding brain development. As blog readers know, this is an exciting time for all those working in fields related to brain injuries, because new information about the workings of the brain are just now slowly being unraveled. For the longest time, there was essentially little to no information available about the most complex issues of brain functioning and development. That is changing.

Yale researchers recently released information on a new study which discovered information about how the nervous system linking the eyes and brain develop in new babies. The research, published last month in the journal Nature Neuroscience, found that brain development is actually affected even while the child is in the womb from immature neural circuits. This affects how the child builds connection between the eyes and brain. This means that even when the eyes of the unborn baby are closed, they still produce messages which are sent to the brain helping to ensure that the wiring system of the child develops correctly. This discovery was reached, as is often the case in brain research, through use of newborn mice.

The lead researchers summarized by explaining that, “There was speculation based on theories about how activity might shape brain development, but nobody has previously manipulated the temporal pattern of activity in the two eyes in vivo, and examined the consequence on brain wiring.”

When an Illinois brain injury at birth occurs and results in a brain accident lawsuit, in many more cases than not the problem is rooted in misconduct that occurs in a few crucial moments before the new addition is officially born. These cases always seem painfully tragic, because they represent cases where a child developed normally for nine months only to have a lifetime problem develop just before entering the world. Families dealing with these situations often rightfully feel heartbroken that their loved one will be forced to deal with a wide range of problems.

Fortunately, more and more information is being learned each and every day by medical researchers which shed light on the specific actions that do and do not cause these injuries to develop. For example, Reuters discussed this week new evidence that suggest forceps use may be crucial in helping keep babies safe. When a mother is undergoing a difficult childbirth, the doctor often has a few options on the table when deciding how to handle the problem. One of those choices is between use of old-fashioned forceps to help in extraction versus vacuum deliveries. In addition, C-sections are also an option when significant emergencies arise that require the baby be extracted immediately.

Over the past few years forceps use has fallen out of favor, and vacuum and C-section deliveries have increased. These trends may be misguided, ultimately leading to more newborn seizures and brain injuries than necessary. A researcher at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine explained that the increased use of vacuum deliveries and C-sections is surprising, considering that there is little to no evidence that these methods of birth are safer in most circumstances. In fact, for some births, the opposite might be true. The researcher and his team studied more than 400,000 births and found that those with deliveries using forceps were forty five percent less likely to have an infant brain injury result when compared with vacuum pump and C-section births. These injuries are often caused by seizures. However, there was one caveat: C-sections seemed to minimize the risk of certain bleeding around the brain-known as subdural hemorrhages.

Premature births have long presented medical professionals with problems. Over the years experts have made tremendous advances in care such that children born earlier and earlier (and smaller and smaller) are kept alive. However, they have had less success ensuring that those children do not develop birth injuries following their early delivery. In many cases, damage is done to the children that can’t be prevented or repaired. In most cases those premature birth injuries involve damage to the young child’s brain. Medical professionals have long been behooved by brain development both for children in utero and in the early stages of their lives. Fortunately, encouraging medical advances continue to be made that may ultimately prove to have tremendously positive benefits for prematurely born infants and their families.

According to experts, this new knowledge will hopefully prevent premature infant injuries like cerebral palsy, epilepsy, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and a multitude of similar conditions. Every year more than sixty thousand extremely premature infants are born weighing less than 3.3 pounds. Thanks to medical advances, the vast majority of those infants will survive, but many of them will experiencebrain injuries that will affect the rest of their lives. Hopefully that will soon change.

National Public Radio News published an article this week, for example, discussing the ways that scientists are better understanding how these brain injuries develop. According to the article the latest information was explained by the involved researchers in a Washington D.C. meeting this week for the Society for Neuroscience. It has long been known that oxygen deprivation in the first hours and days after birth is the single biggest cause of premature infant brain injuries. Brain white matter-specifically myelin-is damaged without sufficient levels of oxygen. White matter is often referred to as the “communication highway” of the brain, as it is critical in messages being sent from the brain to other parts of the body. When a child is premature, their lungs are insufficiently developed, making it difficult for the tiny lungs to deliver as much oxygen as needed to the brain. This deficiency is not solved even when mechanical breathing devices are used to get more oxygen to the brain.

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