Cerebral palsy is a form of brain damage that can result from trauma during childbirth. The term cerebral palsy refers to motor development in children — tremors, poor coordination, or weakness or stiffness in the limbs. It is also associated with seizures, cognitive deficits and other developmental disabilities.
There are different types and degrees of cerebral palsy, based on the effects of the child's motor movement or the part of the brain that was damaged. Cerebral palsy occurs in about 2.5 of every 1,000 live births in the United States.
Goethel Engelhardt, PLLC, has held Michigan physicians and hospitals accountable for birth injuries caused by medical malpractice, including cerebral palsy and other forms of infant brain damage.
What Causes Cerebral Palsy?
The most common cause of cerebral palsy is prematurity, where the baby is delivered before the brain fully develops. Babies born prematurely in the range of 26 to 30 weeks gestational age have a significantly increased risk of developing cerebral palsy. However, babies born at term (more than 37 weeks), can also develop cerebral palsy if there is significant hypoxia or asphyxia associated with the delivery.
Demonstrating causation to medical errors in childbirth requires a careful investigation of the facts to determine if the infant was deprived of oxygen to a dangerous degree, and that the medical professionals could have prevented brain damage. The medical records, including fetal monitor strips, may show indications of fetal distress or complications of labor and delivery that should have prompted a C-section or other intervention.
Diagnosis And Malpractice
The diagnosis of cerebral palsy is typically made sometime after birth, after there is evidence of a developmental delay, a movement disorder or both. While many babies born severely asphyxiated at birth — and who demonstrate problems with feeding or have seizures — will clearly develop a picture of cerebral palsy, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that its members do not diagnose a child with cerebral palsy before age 2 years.
In any case where there have been significant problems during labor or delivery, where the baby requires admission to the intensive care unit (NICU) because of birth depression, the parents should insist on complete evaluation by a pediatric neurologist or developmental pediatrician to plan a course of therapy or other interventions early in the child's life. Medical malpractice or negligence may be the cause of your child's diagnosis of cerebral palsy.
If you believe your child suffers from cerebral palsy as a result of medical error, negligence or malpractice, please contact our office to discuss your claim with a lawyer.