Cerebral palsy (CP) is a complex brain disorder that can involve both physical and cognitive disabilities. It most often develops at or near birth. It is often preventable if a physician recognizes the obvious risks that can lead to brain injuries at birth and takes the appropriate precautions.
What puts a child at risk of CP?
It is generally caused by oxygen deprivation to the brain. Some risk factors for CP that can be spotted and mitigated through prompt medical care include:
- Maternal exposure to infections, including viruses like chickenpox and measles
- Maternal pelvic infections that go untreated
- Multiple births — being a twin or triplet increases the chance of developing CP
- A low weight at birth (less than 5.5 pounds)
- Premature delivery (prior to the 37th week of gestation)
- Jaundice in a newborn that is untreated
- Complications during childbirth that lead to oxygen deprivation, including uterine ruptures or a tangled umbilical cord.
- Maternal health complications like seizures and thyroid problems
When should you suspect malpractice?
Not every case of CP is related to medical malpractice — but many are. You should suspect malpractice if your labor was unusually long, your doctor overlooked an infection you were carrying or forcefully pulled your baby out during delivery with forceps or a vacuum extractor (either of which could have caused a brain injury).
You should also be suspicious that your child’s injuries could have been prevented if your pregnancy was considered “high-risk” and you were never put on bed rest, given the option of the C-section or weren’t properly monitored during your labor.
When new parents are confronted with their child’s disability, it can be overwhelming. It’s hard to know where to turn or what steps to take. If you think your child was injured at birth or through medical negligence, contact our office to discuss your situation.