What is Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral palsy is a condition disrupting the motor skills and postural tone, developing in the first years of a child’s life. This disorder affects 0.002% of newborns, but a higher percentage of premature infants are diagnosed. Cerebral palsy can lead to respiratory problems, irritability, seizures, feeding problems, jitteriness, abnormal motor function, and irregular postural tone.
What Causes Cerebral Palsy?
- Prenatal Problems: Unless the baby is born prematurely, the cerebral palsy is unlikely related to the delivery and was caused prenatal, while the fetus was developing inside the mother’s womb.
- Bleeding in the Brain: Premature infants have brains with high risk of bleeding, which can easily cause cerebral palsy if severe enough.
- Lack of Oxygen: Babies born too early can also suffer respiratory distress; a lack of oxygen to the brain can result in cerebral palsy.
- Periventricular Leukomalacia:Some premature infants are born with a condition known as periventricular leukomalacia, which causes holes to form in the white matter of their brain. Because white matter is necessary for brains to process transmitted signals and relay them to the rest of the body, this disorder is a leading cause in cerebral palsy.
- Maternal Infections: Infections such as urinary tract infection, rubella, uterus infection, bloodstream infection, or bladder/kidney infection can increase the risk of cerebral palsy by nine times.
- Obstetrical Accidents: During a difficult delivery, a mistake made by the obstetrician can cause brain damage, resulting in cerebral palsy.
- Child Abuse: Severe shaking by a frustrated caregiver, sibling, or parent can cause brain damage, leading to cerebral palsy. Concurrent child abuse can make a child’s cerebral palsy significantly worse, and a single incident has the potential to kill a child suffering with the condition.
Cerebral Palsy & Medical Malpractice
Though most cases of cerebral palsy are not caused by the hospital or medical staff, there have definitely been enough cases to merit concern. Birth injuries and brain damage can easily be caused during delivery if the obstetrician and their staff fail to perform or respond to problems appropriately. Instances of medical negligence relating to cerebral palsy include: failing to recognize and respond to fetal distress, failing to perform a C-section fast enough, using forceps or vacuum extraction improperly, treating jaundice ineffectively in the newborn, and failing to ensure the child has enough oxygen. In addition, doctors may fail to diagnose and treat an infection in the mother, increasing risk of the disorder.
If your child was born with cerebral palsy due to medical error, or if your child was abused by a caregiver and developed the condition, you should assert your rights by retaining a skilled Arizona medical malpractice attorney.