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Medical Malpractice Newsletter

Cerebral Palsy and Medical Malpractice

Cerebral Palsy is a birth complication resulting from oxygen deprivation during pregnancy, labor or delivery that affects movement control and muscle condition. Cerebral Palsy occurs in approximately two to four babies out of every 1,000 births in the United States. Oxygen deprivation is often a result of medical negligence.

There is not a pinpointed singular cause of Cerebral Palsy. However, common circumstances of medical negligence and Cerebral Palsy include insufficient monitoring of the fetus during pregnancy, inappropriate methods of delivery, intracranial bleeding or head trauma.

Types of Cerebral Palsy

There are three types of cerebral palsy. An infant may suffer from one or a combination of the three types:

  • Spastic Cerebral Palsy – difficult and stiff movement
  • Athetoid Cerebral Palsy – involuntary and uncontrolled movement
  • Ataxic Cerebral Palsy – disturned depth perception and sense of balance

Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy

24 to 48 hours after an infant is born, noticeable symptoms of Cerebral Palsy, including seizures, bluish skin, and floppiness may occur.

Cerebral Palsy can be diagnosed as early as three to four months after the infant is born. Visible symptoms can include:

  • Stiffness
  • Involuntary movement
  • Startles excessively
  • Unusual muscle tone
  • Poor posture
  • Delayed motor development
  • Slow to reach developmental milestones (rolling over, crawling, walking)
  • Difficulty sucking and feeding

Cerebral Palsy is not communicable or progressive. This means that it is not contagious between children, and an infant’s condition will not worsen into adulthood. Cerebral Palsy is also not curable, but measures can be taken to ameliorate conditions of life.

Causes of Cerebral Palsy

Medical malpractice claims may be available to victims of medical negligence. There are several potential malpractice situations that can lead to the development of Cerebral Palsy such as the failure to:

  • Properly realize and react to changes in the mother’s condition during pregnancy
  • Conduct certain tests during pregnancy, or misinterpretation of such tests
  • Properly realize and react to changing conditions of the fetus during labor
  • Perform a Caesarian section when needed
  • Deliver the infant when the membrane or water has been ruptured for too long
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