Understanding Cerebral Palsy and When it is Caused by Medical Malpractice

Posted on behalf of Phillips Law Group on Mar 12, 2018 in Medical Malpractice

gavel and stethoscope in lawyer officeAs expectant parents, you want nothing more than to have a healthy and happy baby. However, medical negligence during pregnancy and the birthing process may result in a newborn developing a serious condition like cerebral palsy.

The Phillips Law Group’s experienced medical malpractice lawyers in Phoenix advocate for parents of children who have suffered from conditions like cerebral palsy. We will not hesitate to hold negligent medical providers accountable for their actions by helping victims and their families pursue a birth injury claim for the compensation they need.

What Is Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder associated with the impairment of motor function caused by brain damage that occurs while the child’s brain is developing.

The brain is responsible for many motor functions, so when it is damaged, it can affect many body movements and functions. The damage may occur during pregnancy, at birth or immediately after birth. Although most people diagnosed with cerebral palsy are born with it, some may acquire it later in life.

There are two common types of cerebral palsy:  

  • Congenital cerebral palsy: Congenital cerebral palsy develops before or during the birthing process and is the most common type of the disorder.
  • Acquired cerebral palsy: This type of cerebral palsy occurs at least 28 days or more after birth, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Cerebral Palsy Symptoms

There are many symptoms of cerebral palsy, which typically range in severity depending on the degree of the child’s brain injury.

Many symptoms of cerebral palsy do not appear immediately after birth and may only be noticed when the child reaches the ages of three to five years old.

The primary symptom of cerebral palsy involves the impairment of physical coordination or muscle tone. The child may experience physical deficiencies, such as problems with:

  • Gross motor function
  • Fine motor function
  • Reflexes
  • Posture
  • Body control
  • Balance and coordination

Victims may also suffer from oral motor dysfunction, such as having problems eating, developing a speech impediment or having difficulty moving facial muscles.

Some conditions occur in combination with cerebral palsy, such as a learning disability, epilepsy or sensory impairment.

Parents may notice symptoms of cerebral palsy when a child fails to reach certain milestones at the expected age, such as being unable to roll over or sit up.

Cerebral Palsy Causes

There are many potential causes that contribute to the development of cerebral palsy, including:

Maternal Infections

Cerebral palsy may develop during pregnancy if the mother suffers from an infection like measles or chicken pox. If these conditions are not properly detected and treated early on, the child may develop cerebral palsy.

Prolonged Labor

Labor that lasts from 16 to 24 hours can place the baby and mother at increased risk of harm. Prolonged labor is associated with additional medical complications that can result in the baby being deprived of oxygen.

Prolonged labor may occur because the baby is large, gets stuck in the birth canal, has the umbilical cord wrapped around his or her neck, or because a doctor fails to perform a Cesarean section when it becomes medically necessary.

Brain Damage

An infant may suffer from brain damage before, during or after the birthing process through a variety of causes.

Brain damage may result from medical negligence when the attending health care provider incorrectly uses forceps or other medical instruments during the birthing process.

Brain damage can occur when the mother has high blood pressure or an untreated infection. A baby can also suffer from hemorrhages when an inadequate amount of blood flows to his or her brain.

Medical Negligence

In some instances, cerebral palsy is caused by a health care provider’s negligence. This can occur if a doctor fails to diagnose and treat a medical condition that may result in a newborn infant suffering brain damage that leads to cerebral palsy.

Common medical errors that may result in cerebral palsy include failing to:

  • Monitor the baby’s heartbeat
  • Identify and treat umbilical cord problems
  • Identify placental issues
  • Perform a Cesarean section when it becomes necessary
  • Monitor the baby’s oxygen levels
  • Treat the mother for an infection
  • Properly use forceps or a vacuum extractor

Finding Out if You Have a Case

If your child developed Cerebral Palsy during or shortly after birth, it is important that you contact an experienced lawyer for qualified legal assistance.

The Phillip’s Law Group’s personal injury lawyers in Phoenix will investigate your claim to find out if you or your child received substandard care from a health care provider. If we find that a doctor’s negligence resulted in your child developing cerebral palsy, we will not hesitate to pursue your claim to obtain the justice and compensation you deserve.

We will provide you with a free, no obligation consultation to help you understand your rights and the possibility of filing a medical malpractice lawsuit against the at-fault health care provider. All of our attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, which means you only have to pay us if we recover compensation for your claim.

Call or text 1-800-706-3000 to get started today.

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