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Family Awarded $15 Million in Cerebral Palsy Case Over Pitocin Use

Pitocin, made by New Jersey-based JHP Pharmaceuticals, is a synthetic form of the natural hormone oxytocin that regulates uterine contractions.

This injectable drug causes women to produce longer and stronger uterine contractions that are also closer together in frequency, in order to speed up the process of childbirth.

For years, studies have associated the misuse of Pitocin during labor with a number of complications and birth defects. These include:

  • postpartum depression
  • infant brain damage
  • oxygen deprivation
  • increased NICU admission
  • autism
  • lower Apgar scores.

Unfortunately, use of the drug is on the rise as hospitals seek ways to handle more and more childbirths in their facilities.

Last year, the family of a girl who developed cerebral palsy was awarded $15 million to help with her care, after her mother was reportedly given improper doses of Pitocin in a Chicago hospital.

Nyvelle Brown was born in January of 2011 at Franciscan St. James Health hospital in the Chicago Heights area. She was diagnosed with cerebral palsy soon after. In 2013, her family filed a lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court alleging her condition was due to medical mistakes at the facility.

According to court documents and statements by the family attorney, Nyvelle’s mother was given an overdose of Pitocin during her labor that caused excessive contractions “that were too strong and occurred too closely together.”

This in turn caused fetal distress, limiting the flow of blood and oxygen to her brain, resulting in severe brain damage.

The hospital’s staff reportedly knew that the baby was in distress due to the heightened contractions. However, they didn’t stop the use of Pitocin or order a cesarean section birth in time to save her from injury.

As a result of Nyvelle’s brain damage, she suffers from severe cerebral palsy that restricts her from walking, speaking, or taking care of herself. She therefore needs full time treatment, and will continue to need significant medical care and therapy for the rest of her life.

Instead of facing a trial over the allegations, Franciscan Health agreed to a settlement of $15 million. However, they did not admit to liability for their actions.

The funds will help establish a life care plan for Nyvelle that will provide sufficient care for her condition.

Unfortunately, each year nearly 10,000 children are diagnosed with cerebral palsy, many of which are due to complications that occurred during labor or delivery.

Although doctors and hospital staff work hard to ensure the health of their patients, they do make mistakes that can result in severe birth injuries such as this. In these cases, families may be entitled to substantial compensation to help with their child’s condition.

If you have questions about your delivery using the drug Pitocin, your child’s cerebral palsy, or would like to speak directly with a lawyer about your case at no cost, contact DrugNews today.



Yerak, B. Sauk Village family reaches $15M settlement over alleged brain damage during delivery. The Chicago Tribune. (July 26, 2017). Retrieved from

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