Each year approximately 10,000 babies born in the United States develop cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy is a disorder of movement or coordination caused by an abnormality of the brain. It is a permanent and irreversible crippling condition affecting the central nervous system of an infant or a young child. More than 80% of people with cerebral palsy developed it either before they are born or before they are one month old. There are many ways in which the negligence of a hospital delivery team can cause cerebral palsy during the birth process.Causes of Cerebral Palsy
Although there are many possible causes of cerebral palsy, the following are some of the more common identifiable causes or contributing factors.During Pregnancy:
- Specific types of infections may occur during pregnancy, including toxoplasmosis, rubella, cytomegallovirus (CMV), herpes simplex, or untreated group B strep,
- Placental abnormalities may occur, including placental insufficiency or premature aging of the placenta during the pregnancy, or premature or sudden separation of the placenta from the wall of the uterus (placental abruption), causing intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR) of the fetus,
- Severe malnutrition of the mother,
- Frequent use of certain types of prescription, nonprescription, or illegal drugs, or frequent use of alcohol by the mother during pregnancy,
- Exposure to certain types of toxic chemicals or other harmful environmental hazards,
- Mother’s untreated high blood pressure, preeclampsia, eclampsia, toxemia, or diabetes,
- Effects of certain types of genetic defects or syndromes.
- Untreated umbilical cord compression, prolapse or occlusion,
- Unrecognized or untreated signs of fetal distress from pressure on the umbilical cord.
- Dystocia, where the baby is stuck in the birth canal too long due to its size or position,
- Damage to the placenta by the birth process – placenta previa or placental abruption.
- During the Newborn Period:
- Complications of severe prematurity, including problems with the heart, blood pressure, circulation, breathing, meconium aspiration, nutrition, hydration, temperature, infection, jaundice, or bleeding,
- Hereditary conditions which interfere with the baby’s digestion,
- Untreated seizures.
Each of the causes noted above has the potential to interfere with proper development of the nervous system or has the potential to interfere with the delivery of oxygen and nutrition to the brain of the fetus or the newborn infant. When the delivery of oxygen and nutrition to the brain is interrupted, severely impeded, or decreased for a period of time, the brain becomes injured. Depending on the location and the extent of the brain injury, the infant may begin to show signs of delayed development, abnormal activity, increased tone, spasticity, seizures, bleeding in the brain, paralysis of the extremities, hypotonia (flaccidity in the trunk), mental retardation and other signs of defects in physical and mental functioning.
Although cerebral palsy occurs even without malpractice, it is often the case that the injury could have been prevented altogether or it may have been made considerably less severe if timely and appropriate intervention by the health care providers had occurred.
The only way to determine whether the injury was avoidable is to seek out an experienced attorney who will have the prenatal, delivery and newborn medical care reviewed by appropriately credentialed professionals. These experts understand the complex physiological relationship between the mother and the fetus during gestation, the stresses that the infant undergoes during the process of birth, the mechanisms it uses to cope with those stresses, the process of adjustment of the newborn to life outside the womb, and its requirements and responses to certain types of stresses and factors in its environment.Costs of Cerebral Palsy
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Strokes, the average lifetime out-of-pocket costs associated with cerebral palsy is $921,000. Half of these costs are borne by families, who often find it difficult to obtain all the services they need to help their children. After considering all the pain and suffering, humiliation, loss of enjoyment of life, and other related damages, it is easy to see why these cases require prosecution by a cerebral palsy lawyer who is well-versed in this tragic area of personal injury law. The highly specialized care, therapy, and the challenges of raising a child with cerebral palsy injuries involve very substantial expenditures of money, and require an understanding of the condition, its limitations and demands, and love, patience, indulgence and perseverance on the part of the parents and all other members of the immediate family.
Let the cerebral palsy attorneys at The Schupak Law Firm help you determine whether your child and you may be entitled to monetary compensation by contacting us today at (703) 491-7070 for a free phone, office, or at home consultation.