Is Cerebral Palsy Caused by a Birth Injury?

Every loving parent dreams that their child or children will be strong, healthy, and happy. But a birth defect or birth injury can shatter those dreams and leave behind a nightmare of challenges, stress, and emotional as well as financial burdens for years, decades, or even an entire lifetime. Individual mental and physical disabilities can often be handled relatively easily on their own with modern adjustments. However, the game changes when the disability combines both types and is discovered in infancy or early childhood. Cerebral palsy is one of the most common lifelong disabilities, but is it caused by a birth injury?

What Is Cerebral Palsy and How Does it Form?

Cerebral palsy is considered a neurological disorder. It’s a blanket term for a group of conditions that form in the brain and effect dexterity, posture, and bodily movement. It can occur at any stage in life, but it most often forms in the fetus during pregnancy. When cerebral palsy occurs later in life, it’s most often due to a brain injury or head trauma. But when it forms in the womb, it can be a result of gestational brain malformation even a birth injury prior to birth or during the delivery. According to the American Pregnancy Association (APA), only around 20% of cerebral palsy cases occur during birth, so CP birth injuries are far less common than other birth injuries or defects.

What Causes Cerebral Palsy during Pregnancy or Delivery?

Many birth injuries can be completely avoided when the right precautions are taken. And most of the preventable birth injuries are due to one primary reason: miscommunication among the medical team. The doctor may not realize the mother has an infection that is thereby transferred to the baby. Misdiagnosis of diseases can also lead to CP. Delayed birth, oxygen deprivation, preeclampsia, excessive delivery medication, trauma, and even shoulder displacement can cause cerebral palsy as a birth injury. Human error is to be expected in life. But when it causes extensive or permanent injuries or difficulties for the patient, that jumps the track from simple human error to medical malpractice.

What Are the Conditions and Costs Associated with Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy isn’t a curable condition, so the children and parents are in for a lifetime of challenges. There are a few types of cerebral palsy that affect the body in different ways, but Spastic (Pyramidal) Cerebral Palsy is the most common form affecting over 70% of CP patients. People with this type of CP will have tight, stiff muscles that cannot relax, rigid joints, and trouble controlling their bodily movements. Speaking, eating, and walking are often problematic and require special medical care or assistance.

It can take up to 18 months for a physician to diagnose cerebral palsy in a child, but that’s just the beginning. Mental retardation, seizures, sensory issues, and various learning problems can all be a result of cerebral palsy. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the lifetime financial estimate for taking care of a child with cerebral palsy was $1 million in 2003. Not only has that increased over the past 15 years, but that estimate was on top of general living expenses. Fortunately, the right birth injury attorney can help you regain your sanity and at least some security so you don’t have to suffer in silence.

 

Image courtesy of [arztsamui] at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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