Understanding Birth Injuries: Cerebral Palsy And Its Causes

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Childbirth has become so modernized in many ways that it is easy to forget how dangerous the process is for mother and baby. While shiny white hospitals give expecting mothers the illusion of safety, each year over 800 mothers will die in childbirth, and 26,000 infants will be stillborn.

Sometimes, there is nothing that can be medically done about these tragic numbers. Other times, mistakes on the part of the doctors or medical staff can lead to severe birth injuries which may affect a child for the rest of its life. The most serious of these injuries, cerebral palsy, is an incurable brain and movement disorder thought to be caused by a lack of oxygen during birth.

What Is Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy is the medical term for several types of neurological disorders which affect muscle coordination and body movement. The disorder can also cause muscles to be stiff or weak, resulting in problems walking or with swallowing, and can result in a person needing lifelong care. In addition to the physical problems, people born with cerebral palsy may be mentally impaired, or may have frequent seizures.

Cerebral palsy is permanent, and is believed to begin either at or shortly before birth. While the condition will never go away, it also does not get worse as the child ages. Parents of infants with cerebral palsy may notice that their baby has poor muscle tone or is “floppy,” and as the child reaches 6 to 9 months old, his or her motor skills will not progress as normal.

What Causes Cerebral Palsy?

No one knows the exact cause of all types of cerebral palsy, but the condition is thought to occur when the developing brain is damaged. This may be because of the mother contracts an intrauterine infection or other disease, or it could be the result of oxygen loss or trauma during the birthing process.

When cerebral palsy results from a birth injury, it may be medical malpractice if the medical staff failed to notice or correct a problem. Usually, these types of issues include:

  • Failing to detect and treat infections in the mother,
  • Failing to monitor fetal heart rate during labor and birth,
  • Failing to detect a prolapsed umbilical cord,
  • Failing to plan for or schedule a C-section,
  • Delaying a medically necessary C-section,
  • Negligently using unnecessary instruments during the delivery process.

Mistakes like these can leave an infant without the oxygen needing during birth. When that occurs, the brain is damaged and cerebral palsy may result.

Can I File a Lawsuit?

Cerebral palsy is a devastating diagnosis for many parents, and it is understandable to want to hold someone responsible for the damage to your child. In order to file a lawsuit against a doctor or other medical professional, parents have to show that the harm to their baby was the result of preventable negligence. This means that the doctor did, or failed to do, something which breached the applicable standard of care for medical professionals, and those actions (or inactions) led to harm.

When parents can prove that their child’s cerebral palsy resulted from a doctor’s negligence, and was not an unavoidable consequence of circumstances outside of the doctor’s control, then there is likely a case for medical malpractice.

It can be difficult to tell when an infant’s health problems are the result of a doctor’s negligence. When your medical malpractice lawsuit relies on complicated evidence, you need an attorney who understands the medicine as well as the law. Attorney Bradley I. Kramer, M.D., is both a doctor and a lawyer. He and his team of dedicated legal and medical professionals use their expertise to help you get justice after an injury caused by medical negligence.

For a free consultation at the Trial Law Offices of Bradley I. Kramer, M.D., Esq., call us today at (310) 289-2600 or use our online contact form to have your case reviewed for free.

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