How to Determine If Your Child’s Cerebral Palsy Was Preventable
Cerebral palsy (CP) is a group of medical disorders that make movement and balance difficult. The disorders are typically the result of an injury to the child’s developing brain before, during or after the birthing process. In nearly every case, CP is a preventable condition that would save the child from a lifetime of impairment and disability.
CP Risk Factors
In some incidences, the injury to the brain is caused by a number of controllable factors that could include:
- Oxygen deprivation during labor and delivery
- Jaundice (high bilirubin levels) after birth
- Untreated low blood sugar levels
- Serious infection in the mother’s body that was improperly managed, which allowed it to spread to the newborn during the birthing process or afterwards.
Sadly, preventable cases of cerebral palsy are all too real, where the mother could have birthed a healthy infant had some error not occurred. Instead, the baby experiences preventable problems that produce lifelong challenges caused by medical malpractice, errors or mistakes by the doctor, nurses or other health care medical professionals at some point in the pregnancy or delivery.
Common Causes of CP
It is important to note that not every case of CP is preventable. Evaluating if the disorder was preventable can often be determined by specific circumstances during pregnancy, labor, delivery and in the days following the birth. The most common causes for the development of CP include:
- Fetal Distress – The fetus can become distressed for numerous reasons and compromise the supply of oxygen to the baby’s brain. The distress can be caused by various factors including: Maternal anemia, Hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, Premature labor or prolonged labor, Infection or sepsis, Toxic exposure, Post-term pregnancy, Vaginally birth after a cesarean section birth, Medically-induced labor,Cervical abnormality or deficiency
- Cesarean Section / Delayed Delivery – A failure to progress during birthing can delay delivery and require immediate treatment to ensure the safety of the unborn child. The most common risk factors causing a delayed delivery or the need for a cesarean section include: Shoulder dystostia, Labor dystocia,Cephalopelvic disproportion, Maternal diabetes, Ancestral history of delayed deliveries, Small maternal pelvis, Birthing a male child, Genetics, Maternal obesity, Mother’s abnormally shaped pelvis
- The Presence of Meconium – Sometimes the newborn’s first bowel movement (meconium) happens while the infant is still in the womb prior to birth. If the child inhales the meconium, the doctor must act efficiently to prevent any problems from becoming worse. In many situations, the newborn’s lungs may be compromised and unable to inflate properly, cause a chemical irritation to the child’s lung tissue or lead to other serious complication requiring immediate action.
- Injuries to the Skull, Fractured Bones or Severe Bruising – Doctors and other medical practitioners are required to provide a duty of care that minimizes injuries to the child’s body during the birthing process. However, birth injuries still occur through medical professional error, mistakes or malpractice especially when birthing equipment, supplies and tools are used.
- Difficult Pregnancy – If the pregnancy causes challenges during labor and delivery, the baby may be required to stay in a neonatal ICU for an extended time. Unfortunately, difficult pregnancies are often the result of malpractice or mistakes of the medical staff including the attending physician, nurses and other health care practitioners like midwives, obstetric specialists, doulas and other hospital staff members. Some problems that might be the result of medical malpractice include: Failing to accurately diagnose and treat an infection of the mother and/or newborn during pregnancy or delivery, Failing to diagnose any medical condition that places the pregnancy at risk, Providing inadequate care to a high risk pregnant patient, Inadequate monitoring of the fetus during pregnancy, Neglecting to respond adequately to an emergent situation
The Need for Financial Compensation
Many families facing a lifetime of raising a child with cerebral palsy require lifelong benefits to pay for all the associated costs of dealing with the medical condition. In many incidences, the family will need to provide the child extensive therapies, modified housing, adaptive equipment, assistive technologies and special education.
When it can be determined that the cerebral palsy was preventable, family members of a loved one suffering from the condition have the legal right to seek financial recompense from all individuals and entities that had the responsibility to prevent the problem.