Cerebral Palsy Birth Injury: Is It Preventable?

Jenn Fusion | July 25th, 2013 | Posted in Cerebral Palsy Lawsuit News

Cerebral Palsy Birth InjuryTwo to three out of every 1,000 babies are born with cerebral palsy each year. Cerebral palsy is a blanket term for a set of neurological conditions that affect the nervous system and cause physical disability. The symptoms usually emerge within the first three years of life. Babies may show developmental delays in walking and talking. They also have poor muscle tone, stiffness, difficulty feeding, and poor balance. People with cerebral palsy may have problems with hearing, eyesight, swallowing, and bladder control.

There are several different types of cerebral palsy. Spastic cerebral palsies are most common, accounting for 70-80 percent of all cases. Athetoid dyskinetic cerebral palsy is the second most common type, accounting for 10-20 percent of the cases. Lastly, ataxic cerebral palsy accounts for 5-10 percent of those with this disability. In rare cases, children may suffer from hypotonic cerebral palsy or exhibit what is called “mixed” cerebral palsy which is a combination of types.

  • Spastic hemiplegia – Characterized by muscle stiffness and underdevelopment on one side of the body, usually involving a hand and arm; speech problems; seizures. Intelligence is not affected.
  • Spastic diplegia – Characterized by tightened lower limbs and instinctual crossing of the legs when upright.
  • Spastic quadriplegia – Characterized by walking and talking difficulty; seizures; mental delays.
  • Ataxic cerebral palsy – Characterized by impaired depth and balance perception; trouble with fine motor skills like tying shoelaces or cutting with scissors; awkward walking pattern with feet further apart than normal; tremors; erratic speech. Intelligence and communication skills are usually normal.
  • Athetoid dyskinetic cerebral palsy – Characterized by whole body muscle problems; uncontrolled movements; drooling; difficulty controlling tongue and vocal cords. Intelligence is usually normal.
  • Hypotonic cerebral palsy – Characterized by inability to support the head; breathing difficulties; feeding problems; poor motor skills; seizures; neurological problems.

What causes a cerebral palsy birth injury?

The cerebrum part of the brain controls muscles, memory, ability to learn and communication skills. Cerebral palsy is caused by damage to this area for one reason or another. Causes of brain damage may be biological, such as the abnormal development of the brain in utero. Mutations of the genes responsible for brain development in the first six months of life can be caused by infections like toxoplasmosis, cytomegalovirus, and herpes — or a traumatic injury such as a fall or motor vehicle accident.

Furthermore, mothers who took illegal drugs, developed STDs while pregnant, or had untreated pre-eclampsia are at high risk of giving their babies a stroke, resulting in cerebral palsy. However, it is believed that a third of all cases are due to a cerebral palsy birth injury that could have been prevented.

When is cerebral palsy the result of malpractice?

Strokes, hemorrhaging and disrupted flow of oxygen to the brain can occur during the birthing process due to doctor negligence or incompetence. A cerebral palsy birth injury may result from the attending doctor’s failure to:

  • Detect or treat infections (like meningitis) during pregnancy
  • Monitor fetal heart rate before and during labor
  • Detect a prolapsed umbilical cord
  • Perform a timely C-section when the baby is in breech position or too large to deliver vaginally
  • Use instruments like a vacuum or forceps safely during delivery
  • Exercise caution and care when delivering the baby
  • Follow proper procedures and protocol put in place to avoid birth injuries

Should you file a cerebral palsy lawsuit?

Unfortunately, it could take two or three years to achieve a concrete diagnosis of the baby’s condition. Children develop at different rates, making it difficult to identify a clear problem at first. MRIs and EEGs and other tests can help diagnose cerebral palsy. Through a series of medical exams, doctors will need to rule out degenerative nervous disorders, genetic diseases, muscle diseases, metabolism disorders, tumors, coagulation disorders and other injuries that may delay development but improve themselves over time.

Women who had birth complications are encouraged to contact an attorney about their case. When preparing a cerebral palsy lawsuit, the attorney will assess medical staff response, signs of fetal distress and any actions that may be considered negligent. It’s always worthwhile to get a second opinion, especially when consultations are free and plaintiffs pay nothing unless the cerebral palsy lawsuit is won.

To speak with a birth injury lawyer about your case, contact the law office of Balkin & Eisbrouch to get the answers and representation your child deserves. There are no upfront costs, as our fees are collected only if we win or settle your case.