Birth Asphyxia Leads to Sizeable Jury Verdict
Article posted on:10/29/2007
Earlier this month, a DuPage County, Illinois jury awarded the family of a seven-year-old boy who was crippled at birth $12 million dollars. In making this award, jurors agreed that Dr. Steven Ambrust was responsible for a 45-minute delay during the Benjamin Hayes' birth that deprived him of oxygen and caused his disability. An attorney for Hayes' parents says the boy has normal or above-average intelligence but cannot control his limbs, must use a wheelchair and requires a feeding tube. The jury saw the boy's physical limitations during the trial, but he didn't testify. Central DuPage Hospital in Winfield settled a claim by the family out of court.
Cerebral palsy is a complex medical condition that ranges in severity from mild to severe. Typically, those afflicted with cerebral palsy have an inability to control their motor function; i.e., they lack adequate muscle control and coordination. Common symptoms that can lead to a diagnosis of cerebral palsy include: involuntary movements of limbs; muscle spasticity (tightness), inability to walk properly (gait); seizures, breathing problems or difficulty swallowing; bladder and bowel continence issues; learning disabilities, and the impairment of one or more senses (sight, hearing, etc.). More severe cases may also result in a child having difficulty speaking.
In many instances, cerebral palsy is preventable. Perhaps the greatest risk factor associated with cerebral palsy is a lack of oxygen flowing to the child (asphyxia) during the birthing process. This can occur if the umbilical cord becomes wrapped around the infant's neck, or if the infant's head becomes stuck during the delivery. In essence, when an infant is deprived of oxygen for a prolonged period of time, brain cells die, causing injury.