Not only are parents concerned with their child’s quality of life when they are diagnosed with cerebral palsy, but they are also concerned about their child’s life expectancy. After all, parents want their children to live a long life that has the best possible quality.
The good news is that cerebral palsy life expectancy is not much different in many circumstances. However, severe cerebral palsy could lead to shortened life expectancy. Other symptoms and associated conditions could also lead to a reduced life expectancy.
If you have a child diagnosed with cerebral palsy because of medical malpractice, the attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers can help you get justice and financial compensation if you can show that medical negligence was to blame. This web page will address cerebral palsy life expectancy.
Cerebral Palsy May Affect Life Expectancy
Cerebral palsy is a group of disorders that primarily impacts movement and posture. There are different types of cerebral palsy, and the severity depends on the degree of injury to the brain.
However, children with cerebral palsy often have other conditions that could complicate their long-term picture for a normal life span. Children with severe cases  of cerebral palsy may be entirely unable to function on their own, raising the risk of premature death.
Risk Factors for Cerebral Palsy
Here are some factors that can raise the risk of a child developing cerebral palsy from a brain injury:
- Premature birth
- Low birth weight
- Maternal infection
- A difficult delivery where the doctor failed to perform a C-section
- Maternal health conditions during pregnancy
- Multiple births
- Fertility treatments
Cerebral Palsy Cases Are Not Curable
Cerebral palsy is the result of brain damage, which cannot be reversed. Even though treatment and therapy can help your child achieve a longer life expectancy, the disease itself is incurable. Therefore, it is reasonable to expect that the disease may decrease life expectancy.
However, as a parent, you should not automatically assume that cerebral palsy reduces average life expectancy. You should do your own research and consult with your child’s doctor. In the meantime, you should do everything possible to help your child.
Your Child’s Life Expectancy and Cerebral Palsy
It is difficult to give one concrete statistic for the life expectancy of children born with cerebral palsy. There are more moderate cases of the injury that will not have a devastating impact on the child’s life. On the other hand, there are severe forms of health conditions that will curtail the child’s quality of life and place them in danger of premature death.
You would specifically need to know about your child’s condition and whether they suffer from multiple impairments. Severe birth injuries that caused cerebral palsy may be more likely to take years off your child’s life.
Some statistics cite a broad range of outcomes, where your child’s lifespan is between 30-70 years. However, this range is too wide to really be useful to parents who want a more concrete answer to the question about their children with cerebral palsy.
In addition, there will be no concrete life expectancy calculation for your child. As parents, you will do the best that you can to help your child.
Normal Life Expectancy in More Moderate Cases of Cerebral Palsy
It goes without saying that the main determinant of life expectancy will be cerebral palsy severity. If your child has a more moderate case, they may not have a much shorter life expectancy than the general population, if it is even shortened at all.
The good news is that most children have spastic cerebral palsy, and they are able to walk independently. Many just have moderate mobility limitations, and that is the main symptom of their injuries.
For example, when stiff muscles or muscle control are among the only symptoms that your child has, they will not affect life expectancy as much.
Life Expectancy in Cases of Severe Cerebral Palsy
There will be diminished life expectancy when your child has a more severe case of cerebral palsy. Children with cerebral palsy may have severe mobility limitations
The lack of being able to function independently will affect life span. In fact, the more independently the child is able to move, the longer their lifespan. Mobility is associated with a better physical condition. On the flip side, lack of mobility will lead to worse muscle health and cardiovascular condition.
In addition, when the child has cognitive disabilities, it could also reduce their lifespan because an intellectual disability impacts
There have been studies using the total population register and the National Death Index of Australia. This study revealed some impact on life expectancy. Only 22% of the population with the mildest cases of cerebral palsy had life expectancy similar to the general population.
Most of the people with cerebral palsy who died earlier than the average life expectancy died from a respiratory problem.
Other Life-Threatening Conditions Associated With Cerebral Palsy
Severe impairment will often lead to breathing and respiratory problems. The patient is then at risk of stopping breathing or an infection from a breathing tube.
In addition, being confined to a wheelchair also raises the risk that a child (or adult) could develop bedsores that could become severely infected.
Co-Mitigating Factors That Affect Life Expectancy
There may be a lower life expectancy when the child has a co-mitigating factor that could present life-threatening complications. In severe cases, the child is more likely to have a co-mitigating factor that could place the child well below average life expectancies.
- Intellectual disabilities
- Cognitive ability
- Feeding tube – when the child has a feeding tube, they are less able to build strength through vital nutrition, and there is also a greater chance that they could develop an infection or asphyxiate
- Mental health issues – suffering from anxiety and depression that accompanies a brain injury could shorten life span because mental health invariably affects physical health.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, roughly four in ten children with cerebral palsy will also have epilepsy. This condition that causes seizures is one of the main threats to your child’s life.
Seizures can cause serious injury, either through additional brain injury or complications from a fall when the child is suffering convulsions.
Functional Disability Categories and Cerebral Palsy Life Expectancy
There are several different scales that assess the severity of the injury in children with cerebral palsy. There are four functional disability categories that professionals may rely upon.
For example, in the Gross Motor Function Classification System, there are five different levels of injury. In Level 5, children must be transported in a manual wheelchair to all places. They are unable to maintain their posture on their own.
In the Manual Ability Classification System, Level V means that children cannot perform independent activities on their own.
Children who have disabilities that rate at the highest levels are the ones who are more likely to have a shorter cerebral palsy life expectancy. Those at the lower end of the ratings should live, on average, a life that is roughly as long as anyone else.
Measures That Can Improve Life Expectancy
The early intervention steps that parents take, and the other help that they get their children, can improve the quality of their life. Making a child’s life better, both emotionally and physically, will invariably improve their life expectancy.
The actions that parents take, whether through treatment or medications, can increase the chances that their child will grow up and live a longer life.
Here are some forms of therapy that can help the child, both with their physical condition and their cognitive function. The better that a child is able to adjust to and live with their condition, the better their overall health would be.
- Physical therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Speech therapy
- Special education
- Assistive movement devices
- Music therapy
- Recreational therapy
Parents can build their child’s emotional well-being by getting them mental health assistance and paying attention to how their child is feeling. Parents should spare no effort to get their child as much help as possible, but the costs of these treatments can add up very quickly, even if you are just paying copayments or deductibles.
Parents Should Seek Professional Medical Advice
Your child’s physician will be able to answer specific questions about the severity of your child’s condition and any potential impacts to their life expectancy. They will be able to inform you of the factors that could result in a shorter life span and the steps that you can take to help your child live a better (and perhaps longer) life.
In severe cases of cerebral palsy, there may not be much more you can do other than to care for your child the best that you can.
If your family is able to recover enough financial compensation to meaningfully help your child, it may improve their life expectancy. Then, you could get them all the help that they need, no matter how severe their cause of cerebral palsy is.
Therapy can help improve your child’s outlook on life and could mean that they are more active. The more that children with cerebral palsy can do, the better their physical and mental health.
Experienced Attorneys Taking Action Against Negligent Healthcare Professionals
The attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers fight for families of children with cerebral palsy when the birth injuries were caused by improper medical care. We are your partner law firm in complex medical malpractice cases.
The first step is to contact us for an initial consultation, where we will discuss your case and outline your legal options. You can fill out an online contact form or call us at (888) 424-5757 to set up this appointment.
We value our attorney-client relationship with you, and we commit to working as hard as possible on your behalf to hold the doctor responsible when their negligence has caused your child a serious lifelong injury.
FAQs Related to CP Life Expectancy
Here are the answers to some questions that our clients have asked us about cerebral palsy cases and lawsuits:
How Do I Know How Much Compensation to Seek Now?
Parents often wonder how much they should ask for in financial compensation when they do not have concrete statistics on life expectancies and know exactly what their child may be facing in the future.
Valuing your cerebral palsy lawsuit is not something that a birth injury lawyer takes lightly. We work with a number of experts, both medical and economic, to understand what your child will deal with in life. We will make our best effort at calculating life expectancy and use it in our estimate of damages.
How Long Will My Child’s Cerebral Palsy Case Take?
It depends on the complexity of the case and whether the defendant hospital and their insurance company are more motivated to settle. Medical malpractice cases can take years from start to finish. The discovery process in this case can be very detailed and involve massive amounts of information. Our cerebral palsy attorneys are committed to going the distance for our clients.
How Can I Afford a Cerebral Palsy Lawyer?
Our cerebral palsy lawyers will work for you on a contingency basis. When you hire us, you do not need to hand over a retainer check. You also do not need to pay us on an hourly basis. In fact, you will not pay any money out of your pocket for legal fees. You will only have an obligation to pay us if you win your case. Then, our fees are taken from the proceeds of your settlement or jury award. No money will come out of your pocket to us.
What If I Was Offered a Settlement by an Insurance Company?
You owe it to your child to get them enough money to take care of them both now and in the future. You and your birth injury attorney should closely review the exact terms of the settlement offer to see if it fairly compensates your child and will leave them enough money in the future to take care of their needs.
If the settlement offer is not enough to fairly compensate your child and family, you have a legal right to reject the offer. You can come back with a settlement offer of your own or file a lawsuit in court to get the right amount of compensation.
Resources:  NIH