Case study: lack of blood supply causes cerebral palsy

John, 35 years old, Manchester, £5,000,000

Read case studies on settlements to the value of £10 Million or £8.8 Million, or click here to go directly to information on how JMW Solicitors can help you to make a cerebral palsy claim.


JMW has helped a man secure £5 million compensation due to doctors failure to intubate him immediately after his birth, resulting in cerebral palsy.

John’s mother had had a normal pregnancy when she was admitted to hospital in 1974 for induction of labour when she one week overdue. 

Syntocinon infusion

Her membranes were ruptured and clear amniotic fluid was released, this suggests that John was not in distress at this stage. Spontaneous contractions did not follow as would be expected so a Syntocinon infusion (IV) was commenced. Syntocinon is a synthetic version of the naturally-occurring hormone oxytocin and is used to increase the strength or duration of contractions. 

The infusion was gradually increased over the next couple of hours. Soon the labour was established with strong contractions occurring every 2 or 3 minutes. The baby’s heart rate was recorded every 15 minutes for the next hour and remained normal (in 1974 continuous fetal heart monitoring was not regarded as mandatory with an uncomplicated pregnancy). A couple of hours later an internal examination was carried out and it was discovered that the cervix was very close to full dilatation.

At this point although, it was recorded that the baby heart rate was normal there was no recorded value. Syntocinon increases the risk of fetal hypoxia (lack of oxygen) as the uterine muscles are over stimulated, and this is why frequent recording of the fetal heart rate is essential.

The Syntocinon was stilling running at a high dosage and the contractions were recorded as 1-1:2 (that is between 5 and 10 contractions every 10 minutes). This is a frequency that rarely occurs in normal labour and is above the accepted limit for Syntocinon induced labour. The correct response at this stage would have been to reduce the rate of the infusion, but in fact it was continued at this high rate for a further hour. Eventually, John was delivered following an episiotomy.

No paediatrician present

When he was born John was in a very poor condition with low APGAR scores (simple method to quickly assess the health of newborn babies). He was clearly severely asphyxiated (deprived of oxygen) but there was no paediatrician present at the birth so John was eventually intubated by a midwife after 10 minutes.

Lasting effects

John went on to develop all the signs of severe hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy. He is now 35 years of age and suffers from spastic quadriplegia. He has a scoliosis and epilepsy and is profoundly mentally impaired. He cannot speak and requires tube feeding and is completely dependent upon his mother who has selflessly devoted herself to caring for her son.

The negligence

JMW Solicitors felt that the dose of Syntocinon given to John's mother during her labour was excessive resulting in over stimulation of the uterine muscle. The uterus had no time to relax adequately in between the contractions resulting in a reduced blood supply to the baby.

It was also alleged that had the baby’s heart rate been properly checked at 15-minute intervals as it should have been, it would have become clear soon after the recordings ceased that John was in distress. At that point the Syntocinon should have been reduced or stopped and a doctor should have been called. It is likely that had this happened John would have been delivered before he suffered serious injury.


Almost 35 years after John was born, his solicitor Olivia Scates, Partner at JMW, was successful in achieving almost £5 million compensation. This included a certain amount to be paid to John's mother (his litigation friend) on account of her inspiring care of her son.

Contact JMW today if you or a family member suffer from cerebral palsy and believe you have a claim. Contact us either by our online enquiry form or by telephone on 0800 054 6512 and let us help you move forward with your claim.

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