Cerebral palsy is a group of disorders that primarily affects movement, muscle tone, and posture and is the result of damage to an immature brain, usually during development and often before birth. Although cerebral palsy could be the result of gene mutations that lead to abnormal development and traumatic injury suffered as an infant, this disorder has also been linked to preventable problems during pregnancy and delivery, including a lack of oxygen to the brain, fetal stroke, and maternal infections. When these types of issues result in a birth injury, such as cerebral palsy, the negligent physician, midwife, nurse, or facility in question could be held liable for damages. For help determining whether you have a legitimate birth injury claim, please contact our experienced lawyers today.
What is Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral Palsy is a term used to describe a category of disorders that affect mobility and balance and typically involve:
- Impaired movement;
- Abnormal reflexes;
- Rigidity or floppiness of the limbs and trunk;
- Involuntary movements;
- Unsteady walking; and
- Abnormal posture.
In most cases, these signs and symptoms will begin appearing during infancy or preschool years, but could manifest earlier as a difficulty swallowing, eye muscle imbalance, and a reduced range of motion at various joints. Children with cerebral palsy may also experience delays in speech development, difficulty with fine motor skills, and learning disorders. The brain disorder that causes cerebral palsy doesn’t change over time, which means that symptoms don’t usually worsen. In fact, some symptoms become less apparent as a child gets older. Muscle rigidity and shortening, on the other hand, can worsen if not treated properly.
Factors Leading to Problems with Brain Development
As previously mentioned, cerebral palsy could be the result of a gene mutation or accident in childhood. Many cases, however, have been definitively linked to:
- Maternal infections that affected the brain development of a fetus;
- Fetal stroke, which occurs when the blood supply to a child’s brain is disrupted during pregnancy;
- A lack of oxygen to the brain during a difficult labor or delivery;
- Bleeding in the brain as a newborn; and
- Infant infections that cause inflammation around the child’s brain.
These risks are much higher for some individuals. For instance, mothers who suffer from certain infections, including rubella, herpes, and the zika virus are much more at risk of having a child with a disorder like cerebral palsy. Similarly, exposure to certain toxins, such as methyl mercury can cause cerebral palsy, as can a woman’s seizure disorder or thyroid problem. Illnesses in newborn children also pose a serious risk to newborns, including:
- Bacterial meningitis or viral encephalitis, which cause inflammation in the membranes surrounding the spinal cord and brain;
- Jaundice, which occurs when certain byproducts in the blood are not filtered out properly; and
- Bleeding in the brain caused by fetal strokes.
Babies with low birth weights that are born fewer than 28 weeks into a pregnancy, and babies that are born feet first are also more likely to suffer from cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy isn’t always preventable. There are cases, however, when a doctor’s negligence in failing to monitor a mother or fetus during pregnancy or childbirth can cause these types of birth injuries, in which case, the at-fault party could be held liable for resulting damages.
Contact an Experienced Brandon Cerebral Palsy Lawyer
For help with your own birth injury claim, please call Palmer | Lopez at 813-506-5651 today.