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Chicago Birth Injury Lawyer - Neonatal Septic Shock

by Matthew Willens on Nov. 03, 2016

Accident & Injury Accident & Injury  Medical Malpractice Accident & Injury  Personal Injury 

Summary: If your child suffered septic shock at birth, you may have a negligence claim.


Newborn infants are exposed to a number of immediate risks. One such serious conditions that can affect a new born baby is septic shock. It is a condition that can cause number of complications such as reduced blood flow that can further lead to permanent brain damage, hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, cerebral palsy, and seizures. In this post, our Chicago birth injury lawyers will discuss neonatal septic shock in detail.

What is septic shock?

Septic shock among babies occurs when they develop an infection in the bloodstream called sepsis. This infection is caused iin the womb itself, due to an infection that is passed on from the mother to the child. If sepsis is not detected in time and treated immediately, it can progress to severe sepsis and lead to septic shock.

Septic shock causes multiple organ dysfunctions, causing problems with functioning of the heart and blood flow. The infant develops low blood pressure that causes severe disturbances in flow of oxygen to other parts of the body including the brain.

Sepsis and septic shock are usually caused when infections from bacteria like Group B streptococcus (GBS) and Escherichia coli get transmitted from the mother to the unborn baby either before or during delivery. These bacteria can manifest in different types of infections like pneumonia (infection in the lungs), meningitis (infections in the brain), or infections in the whole body (septicemia), that can further cause complications like circulatory system or immune system dysfunctions, vascular dysfunctions, decreased urine output, and other organ damage that can even cause permanent brain injury.

Symptoms of septic shock

Some of the indicators of sepsis and septic shock among infants are –

  • Pneumonia or respiratory distress requiring the use of a ventilator.
  • High grade fever
  • Hypothermia
  • High or low heart rate
  • Infant apnea, slow breathing or fast breathing
  • Low blood pressure
  • Altered mental state
  • Sunken eyes
  • Decreased urine output

Septic shock is one of the most common known causes of neonatal death. Moreover, babies that survive septic shock usually suffer from debilitating conditions like permanent brain damage and cerebral palsy.

Treating septic shock

Babies that develop septic shock during birth should receive immediate treatment. Treatment usually includes supportive care, therapies, and antibiotic treatment. Supportive treatments include fluid therapy with volume expansion drugs that can bring the baby’s blood volume and pressure to normal. Oxygen therapy is also administered to ensure all tissues receive the required amount of oxygen. Immediate treatment of septic shock in babies aims at:

  • Restoring proper flow of blood to all tissue and organs
  • Increase and regularizing delivery of oxygen through blood to all parts of the body
  • Bringing cellular metabolism to normal levels.

Recovery from septic shock

One the medical practitioners recognize and start treatment for septic shock, the infant should ideally be transferred to neonatal critical care specialists and should be treated by medical experts who have experience in handling cases of neonatal septic shock.

Babies that develop conditions like HIE, meningitis, cerebral palsy, and seizure disorders due to septic shock may take months or even years to recover. Some infants however, have permanent brain damage requiring lifelong therapy and medical care.

Seeking legal help from a birth injury lawyer

If your child suffered septic shock at birth, you may have a negligence claim. Call Willens Law Offices at (312) 957-4166 to schedule a free and private case evaluation.

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