What is the Cause of CP?

pregnant-womanCerebral palsy develops due to brain abnormalities or brain injuries during the delivery process or during the first few months of a baby’s life. There is no one single cause of cerebral palsy; a number of factors can complicate pregnancy, labor, or delivery so it is vital to understand the risk factors for cerebral palsy development and acknowledge that there may be one or more contributing factors that led to a cerebral palsy diagnosis.

Common Contributing Factors for Cerebral Palsy

Hypoxia is the medical term for oxygen deprivation or loss. Low oxygen levels in certain areas of the brain can lead to cerebral palsy, and sometimes hypoxia during labor and delivery may also lead to cerebral palsy. However, the latter case is very rare. Only a few children who experience hypoxia during delivery will develop cerebral palsy.

Another common cause of cerebral palsy is bleeding in the brain. When babies suffer traumatic injuries due to negligent use of forceps, vacuum extractors, or other surgical instruments, the resulting bleeding in the brain can cause permanent damage and lifelong complications including cerebral palsy. Other common risk factors for the development of cerebral palsy include:

  • Infection during pregnancy
  • Raised temperatures during pregnancy
  • Severe cases of hyperbilirubinemia or jaundice
  • Maternal substance abuse and alcohol consumption
  • Exposure to toxic chemicals
  • A mother who has already had several children
  • Blood type incompatibility
  • Complicated labor and/or delivery
  • Premature births and low birth weight
  • Injury during labor, delivery, or during the first few months of infancy
  • Brain damage of any type, from any source
Most Common Causes of Infant Brain Damage

Cerebral palsy develops due to brain damage, and all expecting parents should know the most common causes of infant brain damage:

  • White matter damage. The white matter of the brain transmits signals to the rest of the body, so any damage to the white matter portions of the brain can lead to serious complications.
  • Abnormal brain growth. Some babies carry genetic markers or genetic mutations that interfere with brain growth and also inhibit the proper transmission of brain signals to the rest of the body.
  • Hypoxia. Even mild oxygen deprivation can have catastrophic consequences, and it is vital for attending caregivers to properly monitor fetal heart rate at the various stages of pregnancy and during labor and delivery. Oxygen deprivation causes brain tissue to die, so the longer hypoxia continues, the more significant the resulting damage will be.
  • Bleeding in the brain from blocked or damaged blood vessels. Misuse of surgical instruments like forceps is one of the most common causes.
  • Traumatic brain injuries. Babies who suffer head injuries from falls or car accidents or other harmful events can develop cerebral palsy after birth.
Handling a Cerebral Palsy Diagnosis

There is no cure for cerebral palsy. When a baby suffers brain damage during pregnancy, labor, or delivery, the damage is permanent and so are the resulting symptoms. There are no cures for cerebral palsy, but some therapies can help manage symptoms and may improve a child with cerebral palsy’s quality of life. Some of the most common treatments include surgical remedies to repair musculoskeletal conditions, medication, physical therapy, and occupational therapy. A child born with cerebral palsy may also require medical devices such as a brace or crutches to assist with movement and walking.

If a doctor or midwife was negligent in the treatment of a pregnant mother and her child or otherwise violated the standard of care for the patient’s condition, the negligent caregiver commits medical malpractice and is liable for the patient’s resulting damages. Parents of a child born with cerebral palsy due to medical negligence may be able to secure compensation on behalf of their child through a medical malpractice claim against the negligent caregiver.