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.

At STSW, our lawyers believe that most birth injuries resulting in cerebral palsy are preventable with proper medical care and attention.  Whether the complication be due a drop in the fetal heart rate, high blood pressure for the mother, shoulder dystocia, the umbilical cord wrapped around the neck or problems with baby's position/presentation (i.e., breech), our lawyers believe that physicians should be equipped and prepared to timely treat these potentially life threatening complications to the child/mother.  Regardless, babies born with cerebral palsy more often than not require a lifetime of care and round-the-clock medical attention and surveillance.  As these babies grow into infancy, it is imperative that they receive regular and continued evaluations from a bevy health care providers in a variety of specialties, including but not limited to:  neurology, gastroenterology, pediatrics, orthopedics, and physical medicine and rehabilitation.  This health care can be exorbitant and financially ruinous for parents trying to provide the best possible care for their children.  At STSW, our attorneys are experienced in dealing with all of these various types of health care providers and we recognize the importance of having our clients evaluated by such experts to truly ascertain the full extent of a child's injuries.    If you or a loved one believe your child was the victim of medical negligence in the Baltimore or Washington D.C. area that has led to the baby developing cerebral palsy or other neurological injury, call our lawyers at 410-385-2225 for a free consultation or visit our website to set up a free consultation.