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When Cerebral Palsy is a Case of Medical Malpractice

What is Cerebral Palsy?

According to the CDC, cerebral palsy results from damage to a developing brain or non-normative brain development and affects the motor center of the brain. In other words, affected children have difficulty controlling muscle movement. These impacts to the brain can occur before, during, or after birth. There are three types of cerebral palsy. Spastic cerebral palsy, the most common type accounting for about 80% of cases, is characterized by impaired muscle mobility due to stiffness. Athetoid and ataxic cerebral palsy account for the remaining 20% of cases, approximately 10% each. Symptoms of athetoid cerebral palsy include impairments to speech and swallowing, involuntary movement, and difficulty holding a posture. Uncoordinated movement, difficulty balancing, distorted depth perception, and tremors identify ataxic cerebral palsy. In some cases, the onset of cerebral palsy may be due to medical malpractice. If you believe your child’s diagnosis was a result of negligence, you need the help of a birth injury lawyer.

Causes of Cerebral Palsy

Scientists have identified several risk factors for cerebral palsy. These factors include:

  • Genetic predisposition,

  • Low birth weight and premature birth,

  • Infertility treatments,

  • More than one birth (twins, triplets, etc.),

  • Viral or bacterial infections during pregnancy leading to swelling in the baby’s brain,

  • Prolonged and untreated jaundice in newborn babies,

  • Complications during birth,

  • Brain infections in the infant such as encephalitis or meningitis,

  • Head injuries to the infant,

  • Impaired blood flow to the brain resulting from stroke, sickle cell, or vascular complications in the infant.

There are four types of brain damage that cause cerebral palsy. Periventricular Leukomalacia results when damage to white brain matter causes areas of the brain to fill with fluid. Intraventricular Hemorrhage is bleeding in the brain that damages parts of the brain. Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy is caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain. Cerebral Dysgensis is abnormal development in the brain and occurs after conception.

When is Cerebral Palsy a Case of Medical Malpractice?

In some cases, cerebral palsy may be caused by birth injuries due to medical malpractice. Medical malpractice occurs when there is negligence, or the failure of a medical practitioner to exercise appropriate care. In such cases, medical staff may have failed to perform the following:

  • Properly diagnose and treat infections in the pregnant woman,

  • Monitor the infant’s heart rate before and after birth,

  • Identify a prolapsed umbilical cord (when the umbilical cord becomes stuck against the baby),

  • A necessary cesarean section.

Additionally, negligence in using delivery tools such as a vacuum or forceps can cause damage leading to an onset of cerebral palsy.

Contact Goldstein & Hayes, P.C.

Learning that your child may have cerebral palsy is an event that no family wants to face. We believe that no family should have to face such a challenge alone. Contact an experienced Atlanta metro area personal injury attorney at Goldstein and Hayes. Call us today for your free consultation.