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How Common Is Cerebral Palsy?

Families with a child who has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy (CP) are thrust into a very difficult situation. Both children and adults living with cerebral palsy will have their lives permanently impacted. In many cases, your child's cerebral palsy should have never happened, and it was the result of medical negligence.

When that happens, your family can file a lawsuit against the medical professional who was responsible for your child's brain injury. The attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers will fight for your child and family to get the financial compensation that you deserve.

Cerebral Palsy Is Rare- But Significant

Thankfully, cerebral palsy is a rare condition. People with cerebral palsy usually have had some type of brain injury that has caused the condition. This brain damage is what is responsible for a lifetime of disability and struggle.

Cerebral palsy is a brain injury that can be both a developmental disability and an intellectual disability. Children who suffer from cerebral palsy may have the following symptoms:

  • Developmental delays
  • Difficulty walking
  • Difficulty sitting still
  • Stiff movements
  • Jerky movements
  • Lack of fine motor skills
  • Tremors
  • Muscle spasms

Cerebral Palsy Prevalence

According to the Centers for Disease Control, cerebral palsy is the most common motor disability among children.

Studies around the world have varied in their findings about the number of children who had cerebral palsy. The numbers ranged from one in every thousand births to four in every thousand births. The prevalence of cerebral palsy may vary by region and by income, with children in developing countries more likely to have CP compared to those in wealthier countries.

Centers for Disease Control Statistics

Although the United States is considered a wealthier country, there is still an unacceptably high rate of children born with cerebral palsy, in part due to income disparities in the United States and a lack of qualified physicians.

The CDC's Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network tracks the number of children who have cerebral palsy. They maintain the statistics in a central database. In 2010, they reported that one in every 345 eight-year old children in the United States has been identified as having cerebral palsy.

The numbers vary by state. For example, the study found that Georgia had 3.4 cases of cerebral palsy for every 100 children, while Wisconsin had a rate of 2.5.

Cerebral Palsy Facts

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also tracks symptoms of cerebral palsy cases and the types. For example, nearly 83% of cerebral palsy cases are spastic cerebral palsy. In spastic CP, the child has very stiff muscle tone.

This primarily impacts their walking ability. However, nearly 60% of children with cerebral palsy have the ability to walk independently. However, a third of children with cerebral palsy will have limited or no walking ability. Everything depends on the severity of the case.

Risk Factors for Cerebral Palsy

One of the main reasons for cerebral palsy is that there was trauma to the brain during the delivery process. The mother may have had a difficult delivery, where a reasonable doctor would have performed a c-section to deliver the baby. Instead, for whatever reason, the doctor either delayed a c-section or did not perform one at all.

There are other risk factors that a doctor must be mindful of when the mother is in labor or getting close to it, including:

  • Maternal infections
  • Low birthweight
  • Multiple births
  • Premature birth
  • Infertility treatments
  • Maternal medical conditions during pregnancy

When the mother is diagnosed with any health condition during pregnancy, the doctor must be extremely careful, knowing that there may be a risk of cerebral palsy

Cerebral Palsy Cases May Be Higher in Underprivileged Communities

Developing cerebral palsy is often the result of poor medical care or the lack of access to good medical care. The risk factors for cerebral palsy are higher in poorer communities, where residents do not have the same access to health care as those in more wealthy communities.

One research study found that the rate of black children who were born to term at a normal weight is 20-40% higher than white children. In addition, a higher rate of babies born with low birth weight or premature babies can also contribute to a higher incidence of cerebral palsy. However, the rates of cerebral palsy in children with normal birthweight are comparable between races and ethnicity.

A population based study found that the overall numbers are that black children are 29% more likely to be born with cerebral palsy. Hispanic children born to adolescent mothers are also more likely to be born with cerebral palsy.

The severity of a case of cerebral palsy will also vary based on race. Black children with cerebral palsy are 1.7 times more likely than white children to not be able to walk.

The Prevalence of Cerebral Palsy Has Slightly Declined

Studies performed across the world have found a moderate decline in the rate of cerebral palsy in some developed countries. The same is true in some areas in the United States.

For example, one study that was performed in the metropolitan Atlanta area found that the rate of cerebral palsy declined from 1.9 to 1.08 births per every thousand from 1985 to 2003. Note that the rate of cerebral cases is far lower in Atlanta than it is in the state of Georgia as a whole.

Cerebral Palsy Will Also Have Co-Occurring Conditions

Since cerebral palsy involves brain damages, chances are that it is not the only thing that is wrong with the child. Roughly one in every 15 children with cerebral palsy also have autism spectrum disorder. The more common co-occurring condition is epilepsy. Nearly all children with CP have epilepsy.

Prenatal Care Is a Vital Factor

Early onset of prenatal care is crucial to lowering some of the risk factors associated with a prevalence of cerebral palsy. One study showed that women who received earlier prenatal care had babies born with cerebral palsy at half the rate of those born to mothers who received later prenatal care, or did not receive it at all. The results of this study were consistent across all ethnicities.

Prenatal care helps lower the risk of premature birth. It could also reduce the risk of a maternal infection or other factors that could lead to a difficult birth that may cause cerebral palsy.

Help for Children With Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy can significantly affect the developing brain. Children with cerebral palsy will need a wide variety of treatments to help them live as normal of a life as possible. As a result, their families will face significant medical costs that they may be forced to beat.

The first doctor that a family would see is a child neurology expert who may diagnose the condition and the severity of it. Even though cerebral palsy is not a progressive condition, it is a brain injury, so children would need continuous care.

Families would also need a doctor with an expertise in developmental medicine to coordinate the child's treatment team. Even though there is no cure for cerebral palsy, motor functioning and movement can be improved with early intervention and extensive therapy.

Proving Negligence in a Cerebral Palsy Lawsuit

If you file a lawsuit against the doctor who provided prenatal care or delivered your child, you would need to prove that they were negligent, meaning that they acted in a way that the ordinary doctor would not have under the circumstances. A cerebral palsy attorney would need to establish what the doctor did and compare it to what a reasonable doctor would have done.

A birth injury lawyer would work with your child's medical records and an expert to reconstruct what happened in both the doctor's office and the delivery room. The expert would testify where they think that the doctor made a mistake that caused your child to suffer brain damage.

Cerebral palsy lawsuits can be very complex because they are heavy on medical and scientific evidence. However, if you are successful, they will result in the significant financial compensation that your family needs to cover the costs associated with your child's case of cerebral palsy and to compensate your child for the discomfort and difficulty of a life with this incurable condition.

Attorneys Helping Families of Children With Cerebral Palsy

If your child has developmental disabilities because they were injured by the negligent actions of a doctor, you may be entitled to significant financial compensation. First, you must file a medical malpractice claim or lawsuit against the doctor and prove that they were negligent.

The attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers work with families who are affected when cerebral palsy occurs in their child due to poor prenatal care or a birth injury.

Call us today at (888) 424-5757 or contact us online to schedule your free initial consultation. When you go online, the contact form sends information to us, and we will reach out to you. We value our attorney client relationship with you, and we will work diligently to secure financial compensation on your behalf. You do not need to pay anything unless you win your case.

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Jonathan Rosenfeld was professionally objective, timely, and knowledgeable. Also, his advice was extremely effective regarding my case. In addition, Jonathan was understanding and patient pertaining to any of my questions or concerns. I was very happy with the end result and I highly recommend Jonathan Rosenfeld. Michonne Proulx
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Extremely impressed with this law firm. They took control of a bad motorcycle crash that left my uncle seriously injured. Without any guarantee of a financial recovery, they went out and hired accident investigators and engineers to help prove how the accident happened. I am grateful that they worked on a contingency fee basis as there was no way we could have paid for these services on our own. Ethan Armstrong
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Jonathan helped my family heal and get compensation after our child was suffered a life threatening injury at daycare. He was sympathetic and in constant contact with us letting us know all he knew every step of the way. We were so blessed to find Jonathan! Giulia
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Jonathan did a great job helping my family navigate through a lengthy lawsuit involving my grandmother's death in a nursing home. Through every step of the case, Jonathan kept my family informed of the progression of the case. Although our case eventually settled at a mediation, I really was impressed at how well prepared Jonathan was to take the case to trial. Lisa