According to the CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network, roughly 1 in 343 children have been diagnosed with cerebral palsy. This makes cerebral palsy the most common motor disability that can occur during childhood. Children tend to develop cerebral palsy after experiencing brain damage at some point during their development. Everything from walking to talking, eating, sitting up, moving their limbs, and playing can be difficult for a child with cerebral palsy.
One of the most frustrating parts about cerebral palsy is the fact that unlike many childhood conditions, there are numerous causes that lead to cerebral palsy—some of which are connected to professional negligence. If a child, for instance, isn’t properly monitored during childbirth and goes without oxygen for too long, they may develop cerebral palsy. The condition is also linked to low birthweight, premature birth, prenatal infections, and more. If you have a child with cerebral palsy and feel your child’s condition may have been caused by a doctor, nurse, or medical professional who made a mistake that could have been prevented, you should contact an Atlanta cerebral palsy lawyer to see if getting legal aid is an option.
In the legal world, cases like this are referred to as medical malpractice cases. To find out if you may have a case, let’s first go over some vital information about cerebral palsy every parent needs to be aware of:
Common Causes of Cerebral Palsy
Children usually develop cerebral palsy during one of three stages—during their mother’s pregnancy, during the birth process, or during the newborn period. Development of cerebral palsy during each stage tends to be caused by key factors or conditions.
In order to determine a cause for your child’s cerebral palsy, you’ll need to examine each of the following lists and determine what factors or conditions might have been an influence. It’s important to remember that every case of cerebral palsy is different and may have been caused by multiple factors. Cerebral palsy is a complex condition and doctors are still finding new things about it every day.
Here are just a fraction of some of the most common factors that lead to cerebral palsy during each stage:
- Specific types of infections that occur during pregnancy including toxoplasmosis, rubella, cytomegallovirus (CMV), herpes simplex, or untreated group B strep
- Placental abnormalities including placental insufficiency or premature aging of the placenta during the pregnancy, or premature or sudden separation of the placenta from the wall of the uterus (placental abruption), causing intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR) of the fetus
- Severe malnutrition of the mother
- Frequent use of certain types of prescription, nonprescription, or illegal drugs by the mother, or frequent use of alcohol by the mother during pregnancy
- Exposure to certain types of toxic chemicals or other harmful environmental hazards
- Untreated conditions the mother has such as high blood pressure, preeclampsia, eclampsia, toxemia, or diabetes
- Effects of certain types of genetic defects or syndromes
During the Birth Process:
- Untreated umbilical cord compression, prolapse, or occlusion
- Unrecognized or untreated signs of fetal distress from pressure on the umbilical cord
- Dystocia, where the baby is stuck in the birth canal too long due to its size or position
- Damage to the placenta by the birth process — placenta previa or placental abruption
During the Newborn Period:
- Complications of severe prematurity including problems with the heart, blood pressure, circulation, breathing, meconium aspiration, nutrition, hydration, temperature, infection, jaundice, or bleeding
- Hereditary conditions which interfere with the baby’s digestive system
- Untreated seizures
If multiple factors from the above list may have had an impact on your child’s development or birthing process, you should speak to your doctor immediately and find out if your child is at risk for cerebral palsy.
Common Signs of Cerebral Palsy
When you bring a newborn child home, you should watch your child carefully for any of the following signs of cerebral palsy as he or she develops. Some signs may become apparent immediately after a child is born, but many can take days, weeks, months, or even years to become obvious.
Note: Signs are different from symptoms. Symptoms are usually based on how an individual feels, but they aren’t as useful for the diagnosis of cerebral palsy since it tends to show signs during the early stages of development. Signs are more identifiable by parents since they are highly visible.
- Weak or flaccid muscle tone
- Stiff or rigid limbs or joints
- Muscle spasms
- Impaired posture
- Inability to sit up or move from a sitting to standing position
- Poor coordination
- Spastic or uncontrolled movements
- Gait disturbances such as limping or uneven footing
- Poor reflexes or reflexes that are unnatural in any way
- Poor balance
- Difficulty grasping or holding objects
- Difficulty speaking, swallowing, or eating/chewing
If you notice any of the above signs—especially if they are recurring—take your child to the doctor immediately. While there isn’t a cure for cerebral palsy, physical therapy, medication, frequent evaluation, and other treatment options are necessary to help you keep your child safe and help them learn to manage the symptoms and lead the best life possible.
A Cerebral Palsy Lawyer in Atlanta Can Help Your Child
When determining if medical negligence played a role in your child’s cerebral palsy, you may need to consult with multiple doctors and find a specialist. Many hospitals will attempt to claim that a child’s cerebral palsy was caused by “unknown factors” to hide the possibility of negligence. Cerebral palsy lawsuits and all types of medical malpractice lawsuits can set a hospital back financially in a major way as well as draw attention to their institution. Staff members will do everything they can to avoid a potential lawsuit—even after known mistakes have been made.
If you feel you may have a possible cerebral palsy claim, your best course of action is to get as many second opinions as you can, document everything to do with your child’s condition including their birth and the mother’s prenatal condition, and contact a Georgia cerebral palsy attorney as quickly as possible. Medical malpractice and birth injury lawsuits are incredibly complex and take time to settle.
To get the best legal counsel possible, you’ll need to hire an Atlanta cerebral palsy lawyer who understands the complexity of medical malpractice lawsuits and understands cerebral palsy and how it affects children. At Bey & Associates, our attorneys have the expertise your family needs. We have years of success fighting for clients like you and winning complex cases. We can help your family move forward. Contact our Atlanta office to learn more.