Cerebral palsy (CP) is a common birth injury that affects a child’s motor ability, balance, and posture. The CDC reports that cerebral palsy impacts 1 in 345 children in the U.S.
During pregnancy, obstetricians should have their patients undergo regular screenings to prevent risks that could result in the child developing CP. Nurses and other healthcare providers should also monitor mothers and their babies during labor and delivery to avoid further complications that can cause CP.
If you believe medical negligence played a role in your baby’s cerebral palsy, doctors and nurses could be held liable. Working with an Indianapolis cerebral palsy lawyer can help your family get the justice and compensation they deserve for your child’s birth injury.
What is Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral palsy is a collection of neurologic conditions affecting the parts of your child’s brain that control muscles and balance. This condition may complicate your child’s ability to walk and require intensive care throughout their life. While some people with CP learn to walk and move independently, many suffer from co-existing conditions like epilepsy or autism.
Medical negligence can cause CP in your child. Most often, it is due to a lack of oxygen to the baby’s brain during pregnancy or delivery. Several medical errors can result in CP, such as failing to diagnose and treat illness during pregnancy or failing to promptly or correctly address delivery complications like umbilical cord entanglement or uterine rupture.
How Do You Know if Your Baby Has Cerebral Palsy?
The National Institute of Child Health and Development indicates cerebral palsy symptoms may show in the first months of your baby’s life. These symptoms include:
- Developmental delays in rolling over, sitting, crawling, and walking
- Unusual muscle tone with flabby or rigid body parts
- Abnormal body posture or using only one side of their body to reach or move around
If your child shows these symptoms or struggles to reach motor skill milestones, they may have a form of CP.
Who Is at the Greatest Risk of Developing Cerebral Palsy?
Although any child can develop CP, some groups are more likely to be affected than others. These include:
- Males: Boys are at higher risk of developing cerebral palsy than girls. A 2007 study found that pre-term male babies seem more susceptible to brain injuries because of differences in the development of neurons during pregnancy.
- Premature babies: CP has a higher incidence among babies born before 37 weeks of pregnancy. These risks are exceptionally high if they are born before the 32nd week. While healthcare has improved for preterm babies, they are more vulnerable to medical negligence that can increase their risk of CP.
- Small babies: There is a higher risk of CP in babies born smaller at birth. Infants who weigh less than 5.5 pounds at birth are more likely to suffer from the condition due to the specialized care they need to thrive after being born.
- Twins, triplets, and higher multiple births: Multiple births have a higher risk of complications, including CP, than single births. Twins and triplets are more likely to develop CP, especially if a twin or a triplet dies before birth. The increased risk could stem from low birth weights associated with premature births of multiples.
How Does Medical Negligence Affect Cerebral Palsy?
Brain damage that causes cerebral palsy can occur any time shortly before and after birth, due to medical errors and neglect. Cerebral palsy can develop from several types of medical negligence, such as:
- Failure to identify premature birth risk factors
Doctors may fail to identify specific risk factors contributing to preterm birth. For instance, women with short cervixes or whose cervixes shorten in the second trimester of their pregnancies are at an increased risk of delivering preterm babies
High blood pressure, vaginal bleeding, and a history of preterm births boost the risk of preterm labor. If these indicators are present and your doctor fails to devise a treatment plan to mitigate the risk, such as medications and bed rest, they may be liable.
- Neglecting to perform routine prenatal screenings
An ultrasound during pregnancy can check for complications such as a wrapped umbilical cord. This may result in your child’s brain sustaining damage if they don’t receive enough oxygen in the womb. If your doctor improperly conducted these tests, you may have missed out on crucial medical care for your baby that could have prevented CP.
- Not monitoring mothers during labor and delivery
Nurses and doctors should closely monitor your condition during labor and delivery to avoid distress for you and your baby. They may miss breathing or heart problems in babies if they fail to monitor their progress during the labor and delivery. Failure to watch for and address signs of distress can be considered medical malpractice.
Get Legal Advice from a Medical Malpractice Lawyer at Wagner Reese
If you or your baby suffered negligent medical care that led to CP or another birth injury, contact the medical malpractice attorneys at Wagner Reese. Our attorneys will fight for your child’s rights and seek restitution from negligent physicians or hospital staff that caused the condition.
We will seek maximum compensation in a medical malpractice lawsuit on your and your child’s behalf. Schedule a free case review today to understand your legal options and start your case.