Michigan birth injury attorney Jesse Reiter gives a brief overview of how cerebral palsy can be caused from a birth injury, and what signs to look for.
Cerebral palsy is a neuromuscular disorder basically many times caused by brain damage in the birthing process. Cerebral palsy can be caused by lack of oxygen to the brain, which is also known as HIE, or trauma to the brain caused by forceps or vacuums, or a traumatic delivery.
There are a couple ways to know your child’s suffering from cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy occasionally can be diagnosed in the first month of life, but many times it’s not diagnosed for a year or two, couple years.
So, things to look to when your child–is your child developing normally? For instances, is your child walking at about a year and talking? Does your child have fisting a lot of times? Children with cerebral palsy will hold their hands like this. Are they toe-walking? Do they have tightness of any of their muscles?
There are several types of cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy can be diplegic, which would involve just the legs; hemiplegic, which would involve one side of the body. Your child can also have quadriplegia, which involves the arms and the legs. So if there’s tightness in the muscles or spasticity, this is a sign that there’s cerebral palsy, and you need to get in and see your pediatrician. And the pediatrician will send you to a pediatric neurologist, who is a pediatrician who specializes in brain injuries.
Well, there are a lot of things we look to to tell whether cerebral palsy is caused by the birthing process, and one of the things we look to is something called the fetal monitor strips. They evaluate how the baby is doing during the labor process, how the baby’s heartbeat is doing – they tell us whether the baby got enough oxygen. We also look to see how the baby did at the time of delivery. Was the baby depressed or floppy? Was the baby breathing on its own? Did it need help breathing? Then, we look to the records – the baby’s records – and we determine whether–did the baby suffer seizures? Did the baby get put on life support? Was there a prolonged hospitalization?
We look to the head imaging because the images done of the brain help us time when the brain injury occurred. So you look to head ultrasound, MRI, cat scan; if there’s damage, when did that damage occur? And you can tell when the damage occurred based on what you see on the head imaging. You also look to EEGs, which tell us whether there are seizures in the birthing, in the process after birth. And, in addition, we look to the lab studies. Blood is taken from the baby’s umbilical cord, and many times, that will tell us if the baby didn’t receive enough oxygen. So these are all things we look to to tell whether cerebral palsy was caused by something that happened during the birthing process.
Another thing you look at to see whether cerebral palsy was caused by something during the birthing process is whether vacuum extraction was used, whether forceps were used. Was there a prolonged labor process?
If you suspect that your child’s cerebral palsy was due to something that happened in the labor or delivery process or something after birth, you can call us or go to our website at www.abclawcenters.com. We answer questions like this for people every day, and I’m sure we can help you out too.