Cerebral Palsy Linked to Medical Malpractice

An estimated 764,000 children and adults have some form of the disorder known as Cerebral Palsy.  Each year, approximately 8,000 newborns and infants are diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy.  At least a portion of these cases can be attributed to errors and difficulties that occur during birth.

Spastic Cerebral Palsy is the most common type of palsy and leads to stiff or permanently contracted muscles and reduced motor function.  In addition to the pain caused by this condition, the following harmful side effects are commonly suffered:

  • Speech impediment
  • Vision and hearing problems
  • Learning problems
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Seizure disorders
  • Abnormal sensation and perception
  • Trouble swallowing

Causes of Cerebral Palsy

Researchers have identified a number of known risk factors for Cerebral Palsy.  These include low birth weight, high birth weight, and premature birth.  While risk factors alone do not cause Cerebral Palsy, their presence makes the likelihood of your child contracting the disorder more likely.

There are several known primary causes of the disorder as well.  These include head trauma that occurs during the delivery process and lack of oxygen to the baby.  In an estimated 20 percent of cases, Cerebral Palsy is caused during the delivery and not pre-birth.

Head trauma can occur in a number of ways.  It can happen when the baby is in an improper position or is too large.  It can occur when an obstetrician fails to perform a caesarean section in a timely manner.  Occasionally, the obstetrician uses excessive pressure on the baby’s head or neck during delivery.  Additionally, head trauma can occur through the use of vacuums or mechanical devices during delivery.  When the umbilical cord becomes wrapped around the baby’s neck, or other such incidences that lead to deprivation of oxygen, this can contribute to Cerebral Palsy.

Another form of Cerebral Palsy is Erb’s Palsy.  Erb’s Palsy is often caused when excessive force is used to try and guide the shoulder of the baby out of the birthing canal.  Erb’s Palsy suffers generally experience impaired movement in the arm or shoulder affected during delivery, but usually do not have the brain injury or spasticity associated with Cerebral Palsy.

Early Warning Signs of Cerebral Palsy

Newborns that suffer from Cerebral Palsy may need intensive medical car right from the start.  Many require assistance breathing or feeding due to the brain injury they have suffered.  Sometimes, however, evidence of Cerebral Palsy will not present until later in development.   Minor Cerebral Palsy may merely appear as a delay in development, whereas in the severe form infants will experience difficulty eating, swallowing, and holding their head erect.

To diagnose Cerebral Palsy, a doctor will evaluate the child’s reflexes and motor skills, paying close attention to the child and mother’s medical history.  Birth records will be examined for evidence of deprivation of oxygen.  If Cerebral Palsy is suspected, the doctor can order MRI testing, CT scans, and ultrasonography to create a picture of the brain.

Holding Those Responsible Accountable

While not all cases of Cerebral Palsy stem from medical malpractice or negligence, because physician conduct does account for a significant portion of those affected, any parent of an infant with Cerebral Palsy should consult with an attorney to determine if medical malpractice played a role.  A hospital, treating doctor, obstetrician, or other staff could potentially be found liable if it is found negligence played a role in your child’s diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy.  Cerebral Palsy can be an expensive disorder, leading to massive medical bills, special schooling and personal care assistance, and often a lifetime of care.  Do not shoulder these costs alone—hold those responsible accountable.

Giddens Law Firm, P.A.: Mississippi Birth Injury Attorneys

If your child has been diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, the experienced Mississippi Birth Injury Attorneys at the Giddens Law Firm, P.A. can help. We will evaluate your potential medical malpractice case and seek the recovery your child deserves.  Call the Giddens Law Firm, P.A. today at (601) 355-2022 to schedule your free consultation.