Cerebral palsy can often result from a preventable mistake by a healthcare professional that leads to birth trauma. The birthing center medical staff needs to be on alert during labor. Substandard medical care can cause oxygen deprivation, brain injury, and other birth complications like cerebral palsy.
If you’ve suffered a birth injury that causes your newborn baby to get cerebral palsy, a personal injury attorney at the law firm of Nessler & Associates can discuss your case with you. Our birth injury lawyers have extensive experience in medical malpractice cases.
We can help you pursue fair compensation so that you are not left paying the resulting medical bills out-of-pocket while your income suffers due to lost wages while you and your child recover.
What Is Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral palsy (CP) is a neurological disorder that affects body movement and muscle tone. It is caused by damage to the brain, typically occurring before or during birth. Cerebral palsy can range from mild to severe; symptoms may include muscle stiffness, involuntary movements, and difficulty with coordination and balance.
Although there is no cure for cerebral palsy, early intervention and occupational therapy can help improve function and quality of life. People with cerebral palsy can lead full and active lives by following appropriate treatment options.
Types of Cerebral Palsy
Four main types of cerebral palsy can affect a baby during labor. Each varies depending on the extent of damage and symptoms:
Spastic Cerebral Palsy
Spastic cerebral palsy is a common form of the condition, making up about 80% of CP cases. It is characterized by muscle stiffness and spasms, making it difficult to perform everyday activities such as walking, eating, and bathing. In severe cases, spasticity can also lead to joint deformities.
There is no cure for spastic cerebral palsy, but medical treatment can help improve mobility and reduce pain. Physical therapy can stretch tight muscles and help the patient regain range of motion. Doctors can also prescribe medication to relax the muscles and relieve pain. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to correct joint deformities.
Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy
Dyskinetic cerebral palsy is a type of movement disorder that occurs during brain damage. The damage can occur during pregnancy, during childbirth, or after birth. Symptoms of dyskinetic cerebral palsy typically appear in infancy or early childhood. They may include involuntary muscle contractions, abnormal postures, or both.
The severity of the condition can vary from person to person. In some cases, the symptoms are mild and do not require treatment. In other cases, the symptoms are more severe and can lead to functional impairments.
Ataxic Cerebral Palsy
Ataxic-hypotonic cerebral palsy is one of the less common types of cerebral palsy, accounting for about 5% of all cases. This type of cerebral palsy affects balance and coordination.
Individuals with ataxic cerebral palsy often have trouble walking and may appear unsteady. They may also have problems with fine motor skills, such as writing or using utensils. Ataxic cerebral palsy may sometimes accompany other neurological conditions, such as intellectual disability or seizures.
Mixed Cerebral Palsy
Mixed cerebral palsy is a type of cerebral palsy caused by damage to multiple brain areas. The resulting symptoms can vary widely, depending on the location and severity of the damage.
In some cases, people with mixed cerebral palsy may only experience mild movement problems, while others may be unable to walk or even sit up. In addition, mixed cerebral palsy can also cause intellectual disability, seizures, and feeding problems.
Causes of Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy is caused by damage to the developing brain, most often occurring before or during birth. However, the condition can also result from exposure to certain toxins or infections during pregnancy, low oxygen levels during the birthing process, or head trauma sustained after birth.
Many of these causes can be traced to the negligent conduct of medical professionals present during labor, such as obstetricians, nurses, and midwives. These healthcare providers can cause cerebral palsy by using forceps or a vacuum to extract your baby too forcefully.
They may also act negligently by failing to detect issues like a prolapsed umbilical cord or addressing conditions that leave the baby in the birth canal for too long, resulting in cerebral palsy.
The severity of the condition can vary widely, from treatable cases that cause only minor impairments to more severe cases that result in significant physical and cognitive disabilities.
In most cases, cerebral palsy is not progressive, meaning the effects will not worsen over time. However, the condition can lead to secondary complications such as joint deformities, muscle contractures, and chronic pain.
Regardless of how severe the resulting cerebral palsy is for your baby, at-fault medical professionals must be held accountable for causing this preventable yet damaging injury.
Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy symptoms vary depending on the severity of the condition but may include:
- Muscle weakness
- Problems with coordination
- Limited range of motion
- Unsteady walking
It is essential for parents to be observant with their babies as cerebral palsy symptoms, especially in mild cases, can take up to three years to appear. Parents should contact a personal injury attorney once a diagnosis is made. A knowledgeable attorney can inform you of the statute of limitations for your case and help you file a lawsuit in time.
Cerebral Palsy Risk Factors
Several risk factors can increase the chances that an infant suffers damage that leads to cerebral palsy. These risk factors can result from medical negligence before or during childbirth.
Prospective parents trust their family’s future in the hands of fertility clinics.
Studies have suggested that infertility treatments may play a role in developing cerebral palsy.
The risk appears to be highest for those who conceive through in vitro fertilization (IVF), although it is unclear why this is the case. IVF involves harvesting eggs from the ovaries and fertilizing those eggs in a laboratory dish. A fertility technician then implants the resulting embryo into the uterus.
While IVF can be an effective infertility treatment, it may also increase the risk of cerebral palsy. The connection between fertility treatments and cerebral palsy is a complex issue, and more research is needed to understand the full extent of the risk.
Low Birth Weight
Low birth weight (LBW) is a term used to describe babies born weighing less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces (2.5 kilograms). LBW is a risk factor for several health problems, including cerebral palsy. LBW babies are also at higher risk for other health problems, such as respiratory distress, feeding difficulties, and jaundice.
In some cases, improper prenatal care or diagnosis of conditions like preeclampsia or other health conditions can result in low birth weight and increase a child’s risk for cerebral palsy.
Research has found that cerebral palsy risk increases in babies born from multiple births. For example, studies during the ‘80s and ‘90s found that the risk of cerebral palsy was nearly three times higher in babies born from multiple births than in those born from single births. This conclusion is echoed in a 2008 British Medical Journal study that examined European data.
This increased risk was most pronounced in twins and triplets. While the exact cause of cerebral palsy is unknown, the condition may be caused by damage to the developing brain. In addition, multiple births are associated with many complications, including preterm labor and delivery, low birth weight, and congenital disabilities.
Infections can increase the risk of cerebral palsy. An infection can lead to inflammation and damage to the developing brain. Some infections linked to an increased risk of cerebral palsy include cytomegalovirus, toxoplasmosis, and rubella. If a medical professional doesn’t diagnose an infection or administer the proper treatment or medication, their actions may cause your baby to develop cerebral palsy.
In addition, mothers infected with HIV or untreated syphilis are also more likely to have a child with cerebral palsy. Obstetricians are required to conduct thorough exams of prospective mothers to ensure that infections do not put the baby at risk. When they fail in their duty of care, you may be able to seek compensation on behalf of your child.
Fever During Pregnancy
Pregnant women who experience a prolonged fever during pregnancy may be at an increased risk of having a child with cerebral palsy. Doctors and nurses must monitor the mother and her baby throughout her pregnancy to ensure that the embryo is not damaged.
Researchers suggest that the link between the mother’s fever and cerebral palsy may be due to the body’s inflammatory response to infection. Without a proactive approach on the doctor’s part and correct information given to the parents, a mother may overlook seeking treatment for a fever resulting in cerebral palsy.
Maternal Medical Conditions
Maternal medical conditions are a risk factor for developing cerebral palsy. These conditions include but are not limited to hypertension, diabetes, and infections.
While pregnant women can manage some of these conditions with medication or other treatments, others can lead to serious complications for the mother and the developing baby. For example, untreated hypertension can lead to preeclampsia, which is a condition that can cause premature birth, low birth weight, and other health problems.
These risk factors need to be monitored by obstetricians so that the infant does not suffer the effects that can lead to cerebral palsy.
Jaundice is a medical condition that causes a yellowing of the skin and eyes. It is caused by an accumulation of bilirubin in the body. Bilirubin is a yellow pigment produced when the body breaks down red blood cells.
Jaundice is relatively common in newborn babies and usually resolves within a few weeks without any treatment. However, in some cases, jaundice can lead to more serious complications, such as kernicterus. Kernicterus is a type of brain damage that can occur when bilirubin builds up to high levels in the blood. Kernicterus can cause cerebral palsy, hearing loss, and difficulties with movement and balance.
When a medical professional fails to diagnose and treat jaundice, they may be held liable for your baby’s resulting cerebral palsy.
Complications During Labor and Delivery
Certain complications during labor and delivery are believed to increase cerebral palsy risk. These complications include prolonged labor, lack of oxygen to the brain (asphyxia), and head injuries.
Compensation for Cerebral Palsy
Hiring an experienced birth injury attorney for birth injury claims can help you recover maximum compensation for the damages caused by negligent doctors and other healthcare providers. You can seek economic damages for current and future medical expenses, loss of wages, and caretaking expenses.
These calculable expenses can help you care for your child and get them the physical therapy and other services they may need to live a normal life.
A medical malpractice lawyer from Nessler & Associates can also seek non-economic damages on your child’s behalf, such as:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of a normal life
- Loss of society
Injuries during birth can be frightening for a family. Victims of medical mistakes can hold the negligent parties accountable for their irresponsible and unprofessional conduct.
Pursuing Justice for Cerebral Palsy Claims
Hiring a cerebral palsy attorney from the law firm of Nessler & Associates can allow you to pursue your legal options regarding your birth injury case. Our legal team can tell you how much you might expect to win for your case, gather all relevant medical records on your behalf, and prove that the injury during delivery was due to a poor standard of care.
The experienced birth injury lawyers on our team can help you file your medical malpractice lawsuit within the statute of limitations. In addition, we can ensure that all relevant present and future financial costs for treatments and medical procedures are included, so you do not have to carry the financial burden.
Call us at (800) 727-8010 for a free consultation regarding your medical malpractice claim.