The birth injury lawyers at Casey, Devoti & Brockland have seen medical negligence impact the lives of families across Missouri. The actions of medical professionals in the labor and delivery room may cause irreversible damage to children in the most fragile period of their lives. One result is cerebral palsy — but many don’t fully understand what this condition entails, how medical professionals may be responsible and how to pursue a cerebral palsy lawsuit.
Cerebral Palsy Defined
Cerebral Palsy (CP) is a lifelong neurological disorder that primarily affects body movement and muscle coordination. It causes physical impairment involving limitation or loss of function and mobility. As birth injury lawyers, we understand that individuals with CP may have difficulty with:
- muscle coordination
- muscle control
- muscle tone
- balance and posture
- fine or gross motor skills
- talking and swallowing
- thinking and reasoning
Cerebral palsy is non-life threatening — but some may experience associative and co-mitigating conditions, including seizures, learning impairments, loss of hearing and low vision. It is crucial to clarify that CP is not degenerative, meaning the brain damage will not worsen over time.
However, it is lifelong, irreversible brain damage with no cure available. For those affected by this birth injury, an array of treatments and therapies is available to help patients manage the effects. The medical bills may be expensive, so many families turn to a birth injury lawyer to help them file a cerebral palsy lawsuit.
The Causes of Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy occurs due to a brain injury, which may result from:
- Abnormal brain development
- Injuries to the brain before birth or during labor and delivery
- Traumatic brain injury after birth
CP caused by oxygen deprivation during delivery is often entirely avoidable. Physicians and medical staff must recognize and mitigate risk factors that could cause complications during delivery. When they fail to do so, they leave themselves liable for a cerebral palsy lawsuit from a birth injury lawyer Widely-known risk factors include:
- High birth weight (over 9 lbs, 9 oz)
- Premature birth (before the 37th week of pregnancy)
- An abnormally shaped or sized pelvis in the mother
- Difficult labor or delivery (dystocia)
- Prolonged labor
- Abnormal fetal position at birth (baby is in a head-up, buttocks-first — the breech position)
Types of Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy is not a one-size-fits-all condition. There are two distinct types of CP: congenital and acquired. Congenital CP comprises most cases (85-90%) and is related to brain damage occurring before or during birth.
According to the CDC, risk factors for congenital CP include:
- Low birth weight
- Premature birth
- Multiple births
- Fertility treatments
- Infections in the mother during pregnancy
- Jaundice or kernicterus (severe jaundice)
- Medical conditions in the mother (thyroid issues, intellectual disability or seizures)
- Any birth complications which could have disrupted the oxygen supply during delivery
Cerebral palsy lawsuits occur after doctors and medical staff overlook or fail to mitigate known risk factors. Any birth injury lawyer can attest that birth complications may quickly lead to prolonged oxygen loss and a devastating, permanent birth injury.
Meanwhile, acquired CP comprises a much smaller percentage of cases. Children may develop this type of cerebral palsy from an infection or head injury occurring more than 28 days after delivery. Risk factors for acquired CP include:
- Low birth weight
- Premature birth
- Head injury or trauma
Working With a Birth Injury Lawyer
If you have a child with congenital CP or acquired CP, it may be due to premature birth, low birth weight, a difficult delivery or oxygen deprivation. In this case, the best path forward is to have an experienced personal injury attorney review your medical records. There may be negligence on the part of the physician or medical staff, which provides the basis for a cerebral palsy lawsuit.
The birth injury lawyers at Casey Devoti & Brockland — Matt Casey, Matt Devoti and Anne Brockland — have nearly 40 years of trial experience combined. They handle a variety of personal injury matters with an emphasis on medical malpractice and birth injuries. If you suspect your baby suffered a birth injury due to medical staff negligence, contact our office for a free, no-obligation consultation.