Errors and complications that occur during birth can lead to the debilitating disorder of cerebral palsy. According to United Cerebral Palsy, an estimated 764,000 children and adults have some form of this disorder. In addition, close to 8,000 newborns and infants are diagnosed with cerebral palsy each year.
Medical malpractice cases that stem from birth injuries or delivery errors are complicated from both a legal and medical perspective. These cases usually involve highly technical treatment issues and complex questions of liability, this is where we can help.
What is Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral palsy is a medical term for various neurological disorders that hinder body movement and muscle coordination. While there several factors that can cause cerebral palsy, in the context of birth injuries and medical malpractice, the disorder often results from an insufficient amount of oxygen reaching an infant’s brain during labor or birth.
Whether the cause of medical malpractice or not, most children who suffer from cerebral palsy are born with it. Cerebral palsy is a “non-progressive” condition, which means as dangerous as it is at first, it will not get worse over time. Cerebral palsy occurs in two to four out of every 1,000 births in the United States and Europe.
Types of Cerebral Palsy
There are three common types of cerebral palsy:
Spastic cerebral palsy: This form of cerebral palsy accounts for 80% of cases. It is characterized by stiffness and difficulty moving due to tightness in one or more muscle groups. Patients with this form of cerebral palsy normally have a difficult time moving from one position to another and holding onto objects or letting go of objects.
Athetoid cerebral palsy: Around 10% of cerebral palsy cases are athetoid. This form of palsy is described by involuntary movement, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, inability to maintain posture, and low muscle tone.
Ataxic cerebral palsy: This form of cerebral palsy also makes up around 10% of cases, with symptoms including depth perception issues, distorted sense of balance, tremors, and difficulty with coordinated muscle movements.
Causes of Cerebral Palsy
There are a variety of risk factors for cerebral palsy, including premature birth, low birth weight, and high birth weight. Most children who have cerebral palsy have had it since birth due to hypoxia, or lack of oxygen to the brain. They can also get the disorder from premature delivery, or birth trauma, which can sometimes be caused by medical malpractice and delivery mistakes during labor or birth.
A primary cause of cerebral palsy is head trauma. This can occur when the baby is too large or in an improper position. In addition, it can occur in connection with an obstetrician failing to do a cesarean section on time. Head trauma can occur through the use of vacuums or other mechanical devices during delivery. Issues that involve a lack of oxygen, such as when the umbilical cord wraps around the baby’s neck causing suffocation, can cause cerebral palsy.
Cerebral Palsy Medical Malpractice
A number of fetal injuries can be caused by medical malpractice, including brain injuries like cerebral palsy and seizure disorders. A doctor or obstetrician’s negligence can occur during childbirth or long before.
Prenatal Care: If there is negligent prenatal medical treatment during the pregnancy, it could harm the fetus or the mother, or both. Here are some examples of negligent prenatal care that include the doctor or obstetrician:
- failure to diagnose a medical condition of the mother, such as preeclampsia, hypoglycemia, anemia, or gestational diabetes
- failure to identify birth defects
- failure to identify ectopic pregnancies
During Childbirth: A doctor’s negligence during childbirth can cause injury to the baby and potential harm to the mother. Common medical errors that can occur during childbirth which include a doctor or obstetrician are:
- failure to anticipate birth complications due to the baby’s large size or because the umbilical cord got tangled
- failure to respond to signs of fetal distress
- failure to perform a cesarean section when it was appropriate
- incompetent use of forceps or a vacuum extractor
If you are looking for help with a potential lawsuit involving cerebral palsy caused by medical malpractice, contact Hood National Law Group today. We offer a 100% free case review.