Cerebral palsy (CP) is a motor disorder characterized by unusual or involuntary movements. Many people with cerebral palsy also have cognitive impairments and developmental delays (1). CP is the most common childhood motor disorder.
CP is caused by damage to the motor control centers of the brain. This damage can occur before birth, during birth, or up to five years after birth (2). The causes of cerebral palsy include birth injuries, other environmental factors, and genetic factors (3, 4).
The majority of cases of cerebral palsy are attributed to injuries that occur at or around the time of birth, or birth injuries. If these injuries occur because medical professionals did not provide standard of care or were negligent in some way, this is called medical malpractice. Some examples of birth injuries that can lead to cerebral palsy include:
- Birth asphyxia/hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE)
- Birth trauma
- C-section errors and delays/failure to timely deliver
- Forceps and vacuum extractor injuries
- Low birth weight (LBW)
- Meconium aspiration syndrome (MAS)
- Periventricular leukomalacia (PVL)
- Placental abruption
- Premature birth
- Prolonged and arrested labor
- Umbilical cord problems
- Uterine tachysystole/hyperstimulation
- Uterine rupture
Remember that these birth complications do not guarantee that a child will have cerebral palsy. Even if a child experiences these complications, cerebral palsy can usually be prevented by medical professionals who follow standards of care and monitor the baby closely during and after delivery.
Medical personnel are responsible for:
- Providing proper prenatal care and recognizing risk factors for birth injury/cerebral palsy
- Taking actions to prevent birth injury or cerebral palsy (special caution must be taken if risk factors are present)
- Promptly diagnosing brain injury and cerebral palsy
- Providing all necessary treatments for cerebral palsy
Environmental and genetic factors
Cerebral palsy is commonly attributed to issues that arise during pregnancy, delivery, and the neonatal period, including birth injuries. A 2012 study linked several genes to CP and certain aspects of the genetic makeup to premature birth (5). Premature birth puts a baby at an increased risk of birth asphyxia, CP, and birth trauma. However, more research is needed to determine the genetic factors involved, and many cases of CP involve no known genetic factors. For more information on possible environmental and genetic factors involved in cerebral palsy, click here.
Determining if you have a cerebral palsy case
If you suspect that your child’s cerebral palsy was caused by a birth injury or medical malpractice, the best approach is to talk to a birth injury attorney for a legal consultation. An experienced birth injury attorney will do a thorough investigation of the medical records and review the case with expert medical professionals to determine whether negligent care was the cause of the child’s cerebral palsy.
Every case of cerebral palsy is unique, so it is important to choose a firm that focuses on these cases. Learn more about the legal process of pursuing a birth injury case here.
Legal help for cerebral palsy
If your baby suffered any birth complications, including the ones listed above, and has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, please contact our team of birth injury attorneys at ABC Law Centers (Reiter & Walsh, P.C.). We have numerous multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements that attest to our success, and we will fight to obtain the compensation you and your family deserve. Case evaluations and the entire legal process are free of charge and obligation. Clients pay nothing unless we win their case. Please reach out today to learn more.
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- Cerebral Palsy (CP). (2018, March 09). Retrieved September 20, 2018, from https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/cp/data.html
- Nordqvist, C. (2017, February 21). Cerebral palsy: Symptoms, causes, and treatments. Retrieved September 20, 2018, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/152712.php
- (2017, February 3). Causes and Risk Factors of Cerebral Palsy | CDC. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/cp/causes.html
- (n.d.). Cerebral Palsy Attorneys: Birth Injury Lawyers. Retrieved from https://www.abclawcenters.com/practice-areas/types-of-birth-injuries/cerebral-palsy/
- (2019, July 12). Cerebral Palsy: Environmental and Genetic Factors. Retrieved from https://www.abclawcenters.com/blog/2017/12/22/cerebral-palsy-environmental-and-genetic-factors/