Cerebral palsy is a serious birth injury that affects more than 5,000 children in the United States each year. Resulting from brain damage, the causes of cerebral palsy can include birth mistakes such as physician error or negligence. This type of birth injury compromises the body’s ability to control movement and posture and often results in seizures, intellectual impairment, behavioral problems, hearing deficits, and vision disorders. If your child acquired cerebral palsy as a result of a birth mistake, you may be entitled to a financial award. A cerebral palsy case evaluation with birth injury lawyers experienced in this area of litigation can provide you with the information you need to proceed with your case.
Causes of Brain Damage and Cerebral Palsy in Infants. Cerebral palsy, which is a condition rather than a disease, is caused by brain damage before, during, or shortly after birth. The effects of cerebral palsy cannot be reversed, but they may be controllable with therapy, medication, and sometimes, surgery. In most cases, the causes of cerebral palsy include:
- Premature birth
- Low birth weight
- Oxygen deprivation or “asphyxia” before, during, or after birth
- Hemorrhaging in the child’s brain
- An infection or illness in the mother – for example, rubella, toxoplasmosis, bacterial infection, HIV, or cytomegalovirus
- Intrauterine exposure to drugs or alcohol
- Rh incompatibility between the mother and child
- A fall, knock, or car accident after birth
- Asphyxia after birth – usually because of choking, near-drowning, or exposure to poisonous materials
- Meningitis or encephalitis after birth
Causes of Congenital Cerebral Palsy
Congenital cerebral palsy results from brain damage during pregnancy or around the time of birth. The causes of congenital cerebral palsy include:
- Infection during pregnancy – there are a number of infections that can affect both mother and child, such as rubella, cytomegalovirus, and toxoplasmosis. These infections can cause damage to the nervous system of the developing fetus.
- Jaundice – severe, untreated jaundice can result in brain damage.
- Rh incompatibility – a blood condition that causes the mother’s immune cells to attack the fetus, resulting in jaundice.
- Oxygen shortage – if the oxygen supply to the brain is severely low at the time of birth, the infant may suffer a type of brain damage called hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy.
- Stroke – women who suffer from coagulation disorders may be at an increased risk for stroke in the fetus.
- Toxicity – drug or alcohol use during pregnancy can result in brain damage.
- Bleeding – prolonged bleeding in the infant’s brain shortly after birth can cause brain damage.
- Kidney and urinary tract infections – these infections in the mother can lead to brain damage within the fetus.
Causes of Acquired Cerebral Palsy
Acquired cerebral palsy results from brain damage that occurs in the first two years of life. The causes of acquired cerebral palsy include:
- Brain infections – encephalitis, meningitis
- Head injury – falls, automobile accidents, child abuse
Some of the causes of cerebral palsy mentioned above can be avoided with proper medical care. If a doctor or the hospital made a birth mistake during pregnancy or delivery, it could be considered medical malpractice. It is important that you consult with cerebral palsy birth injury lawyers as soon as possible after the incident to determine whether you have a viable case.
Cerebral Palsy and Medical Malpractice
In some situations birth mistakes such as a medical error, malpractice, or negligence may be to blame for cerebral palsy. Such situations include when doctors or attending physicians fail to:
- Perform appropriate tests for potential birth complications
- Treat problems that may interfere with an infant’s growth and development
- Monitor the infant’s health throughout pregnancy and delivery
- Follow the necessary steps to ensure a safe delivery
- Provide the follow-up care an infant needs after birth