Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder consisting of a number of symptoms that can limit physical movement or speech. In most cases, children are born with the disorder from an unknown cause. In other cases, medical negligence played a role in the development of cerebral palsy before, during, or after the birth.
Injuries That Can Lead to Cerebral Palsy
Injuries that can lead to the development of cerebral palsy usually involve some form of brain trauma. Pregnancy and birth-related injuries may involve:
- The failure to diagnose or properly treat certain pregnancy conditions, such as a prolapsed umbilical cord
- The failure to diagnose or properly treat certain physical illnesses or infections during pregnancy
- The failure to adequately monitor fetal heart rate during labor and birth
- The mismanagement of the birth of a baby too large for the birth canal
- Negligent use of medical equipment
- The failure to perform a Cesarean section once the surgery is deemed necessary
When a baby’s brain is deprived of oxygen for a period of time, cerebral palsy can result. This can occur during the birthing process, particularly if a baby is too large to travel through the birth canal or if the umbilical cord becomes prolapsed. A prolapsed umbilical cord means the baby’s weight or position compresses the cord, diminishing the flow of oxygen from the mother to the baby.
An emergency Cesarean section may be necessary in these situations. At this point, doctors need to move quickly to perform the procedure in order to stop the oxygen deprivation as soon as possible. If the medical team failed to see the prolapsed cord or properly monitor the fetal heart rate, which can alert them to a problem, the Cesarean section may not be performed in time to prevent the brain damage associated with cerebral palsy.
If a pregnant woman has an illness or infection, such as chickenpox, meningitis, or rubella, and the condition is not diagnosed or treated appropriately, the infections can cause cerebral palsy in the fetus. Similarly, exposure to certain chemicals during pregnancy can affect the brain development of a fetus. Proper treatment or an adequate warning about the chemical’s potential to harm a developing fetus may have protected the baby from cerebral palsy.
The Bottom Line
Cerebral palsy is not always the result of medical negligence. Sometimes, despite adequate quality prenatal and delivery care, a baby may still be diagnosed with the condition. In other cases, however, medical care was not provided with the standard of care expected by physicians, nurses, and hospitals. The failure to detect potentially harmful conditions for the fetus that could compromise the level of oxygen in the brain leaves a family coping with a life-changing disorder for the rest of that child’s life.
If you believe that your child developed cerebral palsy due to medical negligence, call today or fill out our contact form to reach Carey, Danis & Lowe. Experienced in handling birth injury claims, they will fight for your rights.