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if your son or daughter has cerebral palsy and you suspect that medical malpractice
may have been involved.
General Information About Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy is a condition involving a group of
disorders that affects the child's ability to control
his or her own movement. The effects
depend on which areas of the brain are
damaged. The effects of Cerebral Palsy may include:
Cerebral palsy is usually a lifelong
- Mental Retardation;
- Impairment of Speech, Hearing or Sight;
- Abnormal Perception and Sensation;
- Problems in Gait and Mobility;
- Involuntary Movement; and
- Muscle Spasm or Tightness.
Unfortunately, Cerebral palsy occurs all too often:
Causes of Cerebral Palsy
- Approximately 2 to 4 out of every 1000 new births
have Cerebral Palsy;
- At least 5000 infants and toddlers are diagnosed
with cerebral palsy each year;
- At least 1,200 - 1,500 preschoolers are
diagnosed with cerebral palsy each year; and
- Approximately 500,000 people in the U.S. have
Cerebral palsy results from an injury to the the part
of the brain called the cerebrum.
This is the largest portion of the brain. It is involved
mental faculties, sensations, and voluntary muscle
activities. Cerebral palsy can result from an
injury to the brain before, during, or after birth.
Any condition that impedes a child's breathing could
lead to Cerebral Palsy. The most significant birthing
to Cerebral Palsy is severe asphyxia, a
lack of oxygen to the brain. This can happen when:
Without oxygen, the baby's brain
cells start to die causing brain damage. Half
of the infants who suffered severe asphyxia
during birth develop Cerebral Palsy.
Thus, it is critical for doctors to prevent
asphyxia and make sure that an infant's breathing
- The child's breathing is restricted by the
- The baby becomes stuck in the birth canal or the
placenta is prematurely ruptured. When this
happens, a doctor must make an immediate decision
to order a C-section in order to prevent
conditions that could lead to Cerebral Palsy.
- The baby does not begin breathing immediately
Other complications that can result in cerebral palsy
- Infection during pregnancy, including
measles, rubella, cytomegalovirus and toxoplasmosis;
- Jaundice in the infant that can damage the
infant's brain cells; and
- Rh incompatibility that can lead to the production
of antibodies by the mother's body that destroy the
fetus's blood cells, and can lead a form of
jaundice in the newborn
Approximately 10 to 20 percent of children who have
cerebral palsy acquire the disorder after birth.
Cerebral palsy may occur during early infancy as
a result of cerebral injury caused by such factors as:
Cerebral palsy can also be caused later in life
by head injury following an accident.
Cerebral Palsy Risk Factors
- illnesses, including encephalitis, meningitis,
and herpes simplex infections;
- head injury during birth resulting in subdural
- blood vessel injuries.
There are certain risk factors that, if present,
indicate an increased likelihood that the child will
later be diagnosed with cerebral palsy. These
risk factors include:
When these or other warning signs are present,
doctors and health care providers should take
immediate steps to properly monitor the unborn
baby, to treat the cause of any complication that
has arisen, and, where necessary, to deliver
the baby (usually by cesarean).
- Fetal Distress -
Complications during labor and delivery, such
as vascular or
respiratory problems of the baby during labor
and delivery may result in brain damage
causing permanent brain damage that results
in cerebral palsy.
- Breech presentation -
Babies that present feet first, instead
of head first, at the beginning of labor are
at a higher risk of developing cerebral palsy.
- Multiple births -
Twins, triplets, and other multiple births have
an increased risk of cerebral palsy.
- Maternal bleeding or severe proteinuria (the
presence of excess proteins in the urine)late
in pregnancy result in a higher risk of having
a baby with cerebral palsy.
- Maternal hyperthyroidism, mental retardation,
or seizures increase the risk for
- The mother's water was ruptured for over 24 hours
- There were indications of trauma or infection
during the pregnancy
- There is a family history brain damage
Once the baby is born, there are additional risk
factors that indicate the baby is at risk of
having or developing cerebral palsy and should
be closely monitored and treated. They might also
medical care, or trauma to the baby's brain
during the birthing process. These include
Signs A Baby Might Have Cerebral Palsy
- The baby receives a low score on the Apgar test
- The baby has a low birth weight
- The baby was born premature
- The baby develops seizures
- Tbe baby exhibits nervous system malformations
- The baby has difficulty sucking and swallowing
- The baby shows signs of weakness or abnormal
- The baby's skin is blue birth
- The baby needs resuscitation at, or shortly
after birth because he/she is not breathing
- The baby shows signs of apnea (breath holding)
- The baby shows decreased signs of arousability
- The infant has problems maintaining temperature
- The cordPH is low indicating the presence of
- There was meconium (fecal) staining on the baby at
the time of delivery.
While a diagnosis of cerebral palsy might not be
made until a child is one or two years old, there are
certain signs which may indicate cerebral palsy
if they occur shortly after birth. These include:
- Difficult sucking or swallowing,
- Keeping the body floppy or very stiff, and
As the child becomes older he or she may also
The child might also reject food by pushing it out with his
or her tongue and may show as trong preference for one hand or side
over the other.
Diagnosing Cerebral Palsy
- Not respond to sudden noises or familiar voices,
- Not follow objects with his or her eyes,
- Not hold his or head up,
- Not roll over,
- Not sit up without support
- Not crawl normally, or
- Not walk normally.
There are a number of tests that can help with the diagnosis
of cerebral palsy and can help determine the type and extent.
- Neurological examination
- Feeding and swallowing studies
- Gait analysis
- Imaging studies such as X-Rays, MRI and Ct-scan
- Genetic studies
- Metabolic testing
The child may be affected by any of the following
types of Cerebral palsy:
Treatment for Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral Palsy which causes difficult and stiff movements;
Cerebral Palsy which causes loss of depth perception and
sense of balance;
Cerebral Palsy which causes
uncontrolled and involuntary movements; and
Cerebral Palsy which causes symptoms of more than
one of the above three types.
Children with cerebral palsy generally require life-long
The type of care depends on many factors and can
- Physical and Occupational Therapy
- Speech and Communication Therapy
- Swallowing Therapy
- Non Surgical Modalities
- Seating/Positioning Aids
- Communication aids
- Other assistive technologies
- Orthopedic and/or neurological surgery
In addition to medical care children with cerebral
palsy there will be a need to develop an education
plan and a life plan.
Cerebral Palsy and Medical Malpractice
Many cases of cerebral palsy are preventable.
There are a number of failures on the part of doctors,
nurses, and other health care providers that can lead
to oxygen deprivation which in turn results in the
baby suffering cerebral palsy. These include.
- Failure to diagnose and manage risk factors,
- Failure to diagnose and react to fetal distress,
- failure to handle umbilical cord complications,
- Failure to diagnose and take appropriate action for a placental abruption,
- Failure to diagnose and treat maternal infections,
- Failure to perform an emergency C-section in a timely fashion,
- Failure to diagnose and treat seizures in a newborn,
- Failure to diagnose and treat meningitis or jaundice in a newborn, and
- Failure to use forceps or vacuum extraction properly
If your son or daughter has cerebral palsy and you
suspect that the cerebral palsy resulted because
a doctor, nurse, or other health care provider
failed to provide adequate care during the pregnancy,
during labor and delivery, or after the delivery of
your baby, you should immediately
contact a lawyer.
Call or email for a Free Attorney Consultation
Law Office of Joseph A. Hernandez, P.C.
Phone: (866) 461-9400
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