The human brain is incredibly powerful but incredibly delicate. During fetal development, even slight damage to the brain can result in profound disabilities later in life.
Children develop cerebral palsy before or during childbirth, but some may develop this condition from traumatic brain injuries at any stage of fetal development. Some children have also developed cerebral palsy from traumatic injuries suffered from incidents after birth, such as falls and motor vehicle accidents.
“Cerebral palsy” is a blanket term referring to a group of conditions resulting from brain damage early in life. Ultimately, all cerebral palsy diagnoses result from brain damage in some form. All expectant mothers should know the risk factors that increase a child’s likelihood of developing cerebral palsy.
Additionally, it is essential for parents to know to recognize when medical negligence caused a child’s cerebral palsy. Poor prenatal care or negligence during delivery can easily cause cerebral palsy and a host of unpredictable secondary effects.
Common Causes of Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy is a neuromuscular disorder, meaning brain damage interferes with proper muscle development and causes various irregularities throughout the body when it comes to muscle group functions, muscle stiffness, and coordination. However, the severity of cerebral palsy and the type of cerebral palsy a child experiences depends on the type and severity of the initial brain damage responsible for causing the condition.
- One of the most pivotal stages of fetal brain development is brain cell migration, when cells migrate into place to form the appropriate type of brain cell. If anything interrupts the brain cell migration process, the child is likely to develop cerebral palsy and may also experience other neurological impairments.
- Nerve cells in the human body have coatings of myelin, a substance that protects the cells and ensures healthy cell growth. Poor myelination of nerve cells can leave those cells vulnerable to damage, resulting in cerebral palsy.
- Oxygen deprivation can cause brain cells to die very quickly. Any kind of ataxia or blood loss during the childbirth process can potentially cause cerebral palsy. This most often occurs in complicated pregnancies or late-term pregnancies that require emergency delivery procedures.
- Infection, asphyxia, and physical trauma can all easily cause postnatal brain damage and cerebral palsy.
Not every case of cerebral palsy is preventable. Some pregnant women will receive the best possible prenatal care and still experience traumatic accidents or unforeseeable medical complications that result in their children developing cerebral palsy. However, many cases of cerebral palsy result from medical negligence or the negligence of other parties. Parents of a child with cerebral palsy must carefully consider the possibility of another party bearing responsibility for their child’s diagnosis.
How Negligence Can Cause Cerebral Palsy
Every doctor providing prenatal care in the United States must meet the standard of care for prenatal treatment. Medical professionals like doctors, nurses, surgeons, and anesthesiologists may face liability for a child developing cerebral palsy if their negligence in any way contributes to such a diagnosis.
- Fetal distress is a common cause of ataxia, which in turn causes brain damage and cerebral palsy. Failure to recognize fetal distress and/or address it quickly and appropriately may lead to a child developing cerebral palsy.
- Failure to resuscitate a baby who has stopped breathing during the delivery process in a timely manner may also lead to cerebral palsy from oxygen deprivation.
- A doctor prescribing an unsafe medication to a pregnant mother could be liable if the mother’s child develops cerebral palsy as a result.
- Any failure to meet the acceptable standard of care during prenatal treatment or childbirth could constitute medical negligence if it results in a child developing cerebral palsy.
- Improper technique during childbirth could lead to a child suffering a brain injury or experiencing ataxia, leading to cerebral palsy.
This is only a short list of possible ways a medical professional could cause cerebral palsy in a child. When parents learn their child has developed cerebral palsy from negligence, they must act quickly to take appropriate legal action and secure compensation for their losses.
Treating Cerebral Palsy and Recovering Damages for Medical Negligence
Some children with cerebral palsy only display minor symptoms and live relatively normal lives with minimal need for medical intervention. Some only struggle with musculoskeletal difficulties with little to no cognitive impairment. Unfortunately, some children with cerebral palsy struggle with profound disability, sometimes completely unable to voluntarily control their movements, perform basic everyday tasks, or take care of themselves on any level.
Some children with cerebral palsy may require several years of treatment for specific symptoms, ongoing care for permanent disabilities, or consistent daily medical supervision and extensive medical treatment.
Children with cerebral palsy also struggle with secondary complications like vision problems, autism, speech delays, intellectual impairment, seizure disorders, and more. These medical complications can result in significant medical expenses for parents of children with cerebral palsy.
When negligent medical professionals cause a child to develop cerebral palsy, the attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Law, LLC can help. Contact us today to learn how a medical malpractice lawsuit could help your family recover compensation for your immediate and future medical expenses and other damages from a cerebral palsy diagnosis.