Published on 07/19/2018 8:31 am
Washington DC Personal Injury Lawyers


A baby’s future health depends in part on the mother’s health during pregnancy. If a pregnant woman has certain types of infections, medical conditions or health problems, her baby is at greater risk of being born with cerebral palsy (CP).
Premature birth, low birth weight, oxygen deprivation, breech births, infertility treatments, multiple births and complications during birth can also increase the risk of CP. Birth injuries that result from medical malpractice before, during or shortly after delivery can also cause cerebral palsy.
CP is caused by brain damage sustained before or during birth in between 85 and 90 percent of cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In the remaining 10 to 15 percent of cases, the individual acquires CP more than 28 days after birth. Head injuries, car accidents, abuse and infections are a few common causes of acquired cerebral palsy.
Cerebral palsy is a term used to describe a group of disorders that dramatically affect a person’s ability to control limb movement. It is a permanent condition, and does not deteriorate or improve over time. Signs and symptoms of cerebral palsy may include:
  • Lack of muscle coordination.
  • Walking difficulties.
  • Difficulty eating.
  • Vision or hearing problems.
  • Delayed speech development.
  • Intellectual disabilities.
  • Seizures.
  • Paralysis.
Cerebral palsy may affect only one limb, or it may affect a single side of the body or the entire body. The type of injury and extent of brain damage will often affect the symptoms.
Between two and three out of every 1,000 children over the age of three have cerebral palsy, according to the American Pregnancy Association’s estimates. In total, around 500,000 people in the United States have cerebral palsy.
Medical malpractice and birth injuries increase the risk of brain damage and of a child being born with developmental problems such as cerebral palsy.
Some of the leading CP risk factors, particularly those involving negligent birth injuries, include:
  1. Prolonged labor or difficult delivery – When labor goes on for an extended period of time, or complications arise during delivery, it can result in the baby’s oxygen flow being compromised. If the doctor fails to recognize the risk, the lack of oxygen to the baby could lead to brain damage, CP or death.
  2. Severe jaundice in newborns – In most cases, children who are born with jaundice (a yellowing of the skin and eyes) can be treated by exposing them to lights designed to decrease the bilirubin in the blood. If jaundice becomes severe, or treatment is not delivered in a timely fashion, there is an increased risk of kernicterus, a condition that can lead to CP.
  3. Undiagnosed or infections contracted during pregnancy – Failure to prevent the contraction of certain types of infections in a pregnant woman, or negligence in diagnosing an infection which could impact the health of the baby may cause CP. If a pregnant woman is exposed to chicken pox, erroneously given a rubella vaccination, or her doctor fails to diagnose and treat a urinary tract infection, the baby faces an increased risk of complications that could lead to CP.
  4. Birth complications – If the placenta separates from the wall of the uterus before birth, the uterus ruptures or there are problems with the umbilical cord, it could lead to the baby being deprived of the nutrients and oxygen necessary for survival in the womb. If this happens, immediate action must be taken to protect the mother and child. Failure to do so could lead to cerebral palsy and other health problems.
  5. Preterm delivery – If a pregnant woman is at risk of delivering her baby pre-term, it is important for the physician to take steps to minimize the danger to the baby. Premature babies face a greater risk of developing cerebral palsy. The American Pregnancy Association states that the risk of a premature baby (under three and a half pounds) developing CP is 30 percent higher than the risk to a full-term baby.
If you believe your child acquired cerebral palsy as a result of the negligent actions of the medical professionals attending the birth, you should contact a skilled birth injury attorney. You may be entitled to pursue compensation to help pay for your child’s medical costs, ongoing therapy, adaptive devices and other expenses.
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