If you believe that your child suffered a birth injury due to the negligence of the doctor, a nurse or any other medical professional you can take action to pursue fair compensation for your child’s past, present and future medical costs.
The attorneys at the Chicago, Illinois birth injury law firm of Briskman Briskman & Greenberg can help. We have decades of experience successfully handling these challenging cases. We know how to take on large medical practices, hospitals and their insurance companies to obtain the compensation you deserve.
Our birth injury lawyers can handle all types of cases, many of which involve brain damage. In these cases, a child may suffer serious conditions such as cerebral palsy. We can also handle birth injury cases involving shoulder dystocia, Erb’s palsy or any other condition that should have been prevented by proper care during childbirth. Our law firm also proudly stands beside parents who have suffered the wrongful death of a child due to a preventable birth error.
Birth Injury Statistics
The infant mortality rate in the United States has slowly declined since 1995. That year, approximately 7.5 infants died per 1,000 births. As of 2018, the infant mortality rate in the United States was 5.7 deaths per 1,000 births. In large part, the decrease in the mortality rate is due to advancements in medical technology.
There are over 144,000 babies born in Illinois each year:
- Approximately 45,000 of these births involved Cesarean sections
- Approximately 15,000 of these births were considered preterm
- Over 12,000 of the babies were low birth weight
- Over 2,000 of the babies were very low birth weight
Across Illinois, of the 144,000 births, only 107,000 mothers had adequate prenatal care. In Cook County, in particular, only approximately 41,000 of the more than 65,000 mothers who gave birth had adequate prenatal care.
Each year in the United States, an estimated 28,000 babies are born with a serious birth injury.
According to one study, birth injuries occurred at the following rates:
- Clavicular fracture: 5.7 infants per 1,000 births
- Facial nerve injury: .7 infants per 1,000 births
- Brachial plexus injury: 1.1 infants per 1,000 births
According to a government study, the rates of birth injuries were as follows for each type of hospital:
- Private, not-for-profit: 7.15 per 1,000 births
- Private, for-profit: 4.33 per 1,000 births
- Public: 6.11 per 1,000 births
Birth injuries tend to be less common in smaller hospitals.
- Hospitals with fewer than 100 beds: 5.36 birth injuries per 1,000 births
- Hospitals with 100 to 299 beds: 5.45 birth injuries per 1,000 births
- Hospitals with 300 to 499 beds: 8.57 birth injuries per 1,000 births
- Hospitals with 500 or more beds: 7.1 birth injuries per 1,000 births
Over one percent of all Cesarean section deliveries result in birth injury. Almost seven percent of Cesarean deliveries involving a failed attempt to use forceps or a vacuum resulted in injury to the baby.
The most common types of birth injury during a Cesarean delivery are:
- Skin laceration
- Cephalohematoma (an accumulation of blood under the scalp)
- Fractured clavicle
- Brachial plexus injury
- Skull fracture
- Facial nerve palsy
Types of Illinois Birth Injury Claims
Each year, thousands of newborns suffer minor injuries during the labor and delivery process. Most often, these injuries heal on their own over time. On occasion, an infant suffers a much more severe injury, potentially resulting in broken bones, nerve damage, oxygen deprivation or brain damage. Most Chicago birth injuries are preventable and are the result of the delivery physician’s negligence.
When it comes to the various types of birth injuries, medical professionals break them down into several categories:
Head and Brain Birth Injuries
The most common type of birth injury involves damage to a newborn’s head or brain. Doctors may use forceps or other tools to assist in the delivery process during more complicated deliveries. Negligent or improper use of these tools can easily cause severe damage to a newborn baby’s head, including facial bone fractures and swelling or bruising of the scalp.
While these superficial wounds can be traumatizing, the real dangers involve hematomas and hemorrhages. A hematoma is a collection of blood that forms outside of a blood vessel. Various hematomas can occur during birth; however, one of the most common is an epidural hematoma. An epidural hematoma occurs when there is bleeding between the brain and the outer layer of tissue that covers the brain. Often, epidural hematomas occur as the result of a skull fracture. Epidural hematomas put additional pressure on the brain, which can cause apnea or seizures.
A hemorrhage occurs when blood escapes through a broken blood vessel. Hemorrhages are typically the result of a doctor’s use of forceps or other tools during a complicated delivery. Depending on the location of the physical damage, hemorrhages can affect different parts of the brain. The various types of hemorrhages include:
- Intraventricular hemorrhages
- Subarachnoid hemorrhages
- Subdural hemorrhages
Nerve-Related Birth Injuries
The second most common type of birth injury affects a newborn’s nerves. Nerve injuries most often involve larger babies and difficult deliveries. Depending on the specific type of injury, a nerve-related birth injury can result in persistent, lifelong injuries, including muscle weakness and even paralysis. The following are among the types of nerve-related birth injuries:
- Brachial plexus injury: The brachial plexus is a large group of nerves, located between the neck and shoulders. If a newborn’s arm is stretched during the delivery process, the brachial plexus can sustain severe damage, resulting in weakness or even permanent paralysis of a child’s arm or hand.
- Facial nerve injury: Typically, injuries to the facial nerves occur during a forceps-assisted delivery or in births involving unusual fetal positioning. These injuries generally heal on their own, within a few months after birth.
- Phrenic nerve injury: The phrenic nerve is the nerve leading into the diaphragm, which is the major respiratory muscle. When the phrenic nerve is damaged, babies often have difficulty breathing, and may require mechanical assistance after birth.
- Shoulder dystocia: Shoulder dystocia occurs when one or both of a baby’s shoulders get stuck inside the mother’s pelvis during birth. Shoulder dystocia is a common cause of birth injury and can result in serious injury to both mother and child.
- Spinal injury: While rare, the spinal cord can get overstretched during delivery. When this happens, it may cause permanent paralysis below the point of injury.
Parents of children born with Erb’s palsy, Klumpke palsy or other nerve-related injuries should contact a Chicago personal injury law firm to discuss their child’s injuries.
Before birth, babies receive all oxygen through the mother’s placenta. The umbilical cord carries blood from the mother’s placenta to the baby. If a baby’s blood flow is cut off during labor, they can suffer from perinatal asphyxiation, which is a deprivation of oxygen to the brain.
In some cases, newborns suffering from perinatal asphyxiation look and act completely normal. And in many cases, the problem will resolve itself in the moments after birth. However, prolonged oxygen deprivation can be catastrophic. On the mild end of the spectrum, babies experiencing perinatal asphyxiation may suffer learning disabilities due to the damage caused to their brains. In more serious cases, newborn babies can develop cerebral palsy. There are several known causes for perinatal asphyxia, including:
- Obstruction of the blood through the umbilical cord
- Exposure to certain drugs or medications before birth
- Severe maternal hemorrhage.
- Placental abruption
What Is Cerebral Palsy?
One of the most serious, and most common, birth injuries is cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy refers to a group of disorders that affect movement, balance and posture. It is believed that four out of every 1,000 babies born suffer from cerebral palsy.
The symptoms of cerebral palsy typically include a combination of developmental delays, abnormal muscle tone and abnormal posture. Medical experts classify cerebral palsy into three categories, depending on the type of movement disorder:
- Ataxia: Ataxic cerebral palsy is caused by damage to the cerebellum. Ataxia affects a child’s balance and coordination, and children suffering from ataxic cerebral palsy often have unsteady or shaky movement and poor depth perception.
- Spasticity: Spastic cerebral palsy results in increased muscle tone caused by damage to the brain’s motor cortex. Children with spastic cerebral palsy often experience difficulty controlling individual muscle groups, making it difficult to grab and manipulate small objects.
- Dyskinesia: Dyskinetic cerebral palsy is caused by damage to the basal ganglia. Dyskinesia is characterized by involuntary movements, including repetitive twisting motions, writing motions, or abrupt movements.
As is the case with most birth injuries, cerebral palsy is often preventable. Parents of children born with cerebral palsy or otherwise suffered from perinatal asphyxiation should reach out to an Illinois medical malpractice lawyer to determine what remedies may be available.
Obtaining Compensation for Your Child’s Preventable Injuries
While birth injuries vary in severity, many will not go away. These permanent, life-changing injuries may require a lifetime of costly medical care. Parents of children suffering from debilitating birth injuries may recover compensation for past and future medical expenses, the need for additional caretakers, accommodations that must be made to the family home, the costs of counseling and special education, as well as for any pain and suffering that their child will experience throughout the course of their life.
At Briskman Briskman & Greenberg, when we build a case, we take the time to carefully review your child’s medical condition. We work with medical experts to determine how much compensation is necessary to cover the child’s past, present and future medical care. When we bring your case to the opposition, we will ask for what is fair, and we will fight for what you and your child deserves.
Reach Out to a Compassionate Team of Chicago Birth Injury Lawyers for Immediate Assistance
If your child suffered through a traumatic birth, and experienced a serious injury, as a result, contact the Chicago birth injury lawyers at Briskman Briskman & Greenberg. Our experienced attorneys represent families that have been forever changed by negligent acts of medical providers. We have over 30 years of experience advocating on behalf of Chicago families, and we know what it takes to succeed on our clients’ behalf. From the moment you allow our firm to work on your case, we investigate your claim, seeking to uncover all potentially liable parties and theories of liability so you can obtain the compensation you and your family deserve. As a part of the Briskman Guarantee, we handle all cases on a contingency basis, meaning we will only accept payment if we can help your family obtain compensation for your child’s injuries. To learn more, call 1-877-595-4878 to schedule a free consultation today.