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How do you determine if the injury to the infant during birth caused the neurologic outcome?

Some children show signs of cerebral palsy soon after birth, while others can take years to display symptoms.  Sometimes, doctors may not be able to make a diagnosis until the child is 4-5 years of age.  In evaluating a child for CP, doctors will review the child’s medical history, check the child’s motor skills, and look for characteristic symptoms such as muscle tone, posture, and coordination.

Diagnostic testing

Doctors can use imaging methods such as CT scans, MRI scans, and cranial ultrasounds to help show the damaged areas of the brain.  If the child displays possible symptoms of CP, the doctor will continue to monitor the child to determine if the symptoms show a progressive decline.  If the symptoms get worse, the child has a different underlying condition because CP is a non-progressive disorder.

Causal connection in a legal context

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) developed criteria to correlate the degree of asphyxia with cerebral palsy.  This criteria is now endorsed by the American Pediatric Association.  However, the criteria is contradicted by medical literature, making it more difficult to determine if your child’s condition is caused by injury during birth.

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