What is Cerebral Palsy?
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 were born or before they were one month old. In many instances, the cause of the brain abnormality is unknown, however there are many ways in which the negligence of a hospital delivery team can cause cerebral palsy during the birth process.Related Information: Cerebral Palsy Resources
Children with Cerebral Palsy
About half of the children who have cerebral palsy need to use devices-such as braces, walkers, or wheel chairs-to help them get around, and almost 70% have other disabilities, primarily mental retardation.
Depending on the severity of their disability, children with cerebral palsy may need:
- assistive devices for various tasks
- specialized medical care
- educational and social services
- other help throughout their lives from both their families and communities
As such, recovering adequate personal injury damages in those cases where cerebral palsy is caused by negligence is vital. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Strokes, the average lifetime out-of-pocket costs associated with cerebral palsy can be millions of dollars.
Most of these costs are borne by families, who often find it difficult to obtain all the services they need to help their children.
Causes of Cerebral Palsy in Infants
Cerebral Palsy can occur during pregnancy, during the birth process, or during the newborn period. Though there are many possible causes, the following are some of the more common identifiable causes of cerebral palsy or contributing factors.
- Specific types of infections may occur for the first time 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 medical condition: 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
- 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
Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy
Each of the causes noted above has the potential to interfere with proper development of the nervous system or 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 symptoms of cerebral palsy such as:
- delayed development
- abnormal activity
- increased tone
- bleeding in the brain
- paralysis of the extremities
- hypotonia (flaccidity in the trunk)
- mental retardation
- other signs of defects in physical and mental functioning
It is essential to realize that cerebral palsy occurs even without malpractice, under the best possible medical care, where there was nothing that should have or could have been done by the health care providers to avoid the injury. Unfortunately, however, 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 have the prenatal, delivery and newborn medical care reviewed by appropriately credentialed professionals who 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.
Experienced Florida Birth Injury Attorneys Are Here to Help
When considering all the pain and suffering, humiliation, loss of enjoyment of life, and other related damages, it is easy to see why cerebral palsy cases require prosecution by a birth injury attorney who is well-versed in this tragic area of Florida personal injury law.
The highly specialized care, therapy, and the challenges of raising a child with cerebral palsy 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.
In cerebral palsy cases it is essential that measures be taken promptly to preserve evidence, review the medical procedures in question, and to enable physicians or other expert witnesses to thoroughly evaluate the birth record and injuries.
Let Brotman Nusbaum & Ibrahim help you to determine whether you and your child may be entitled to compensation for injuries during childbirth.
If you or a loved have been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, call Brotman Nusbaum & Ibrahim now at (888) 661-6266 or CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT A SIMPLE CASE FORM. The initial consultation is free of charge, and if we agree to accept your case, we will work on a contingent fee basis, which means we get paid for our services only if there is a monetary award or recovery of funds. Don’t delay. You may have a valid claim and be entitled to compensation for injuries and damages, but timely steps must be taken to protect your rights before the statute of limitations expires.