Complications During Delivery Can Lead to Cerebral Palsy

For couples planning families, labor and delivery can be a joyous experience. Parents may take time to develop birth plans, visit hospitals prior to delivery and set up a nursery filled with everything the new infant could possibly need.

Unfortunately, for some couples, the delivery process is a traumatic and scary event. In many cases, medical professionals are able to provide interventions that can help reduce the risk of  injury to both the mother and infant. Unfortunately, there are some instances where medical professionals do not provide the care that is needed during delivery.

Basics of cerebral palsy

Cerebral palsy is a term used to describe disorders that impair the control of movement. The disorder results from damage to the developing brain. Symptoms of this disorder can appear during infancy, but may not become apparent until preschool years. Children suffering from this disorder may experience stiff muscles, tremors, delays in reaching milestones like pushing up or crawling and difficulties eating.

These symptoms can lead to complications throughout a child’s life. Complications can include a shortening of muscle tissue, called contracture, which inhibits bone growth and can lead to joint deformities. Malnutrition can result from difficulties eating and a painful degenerative bone disease, known as osteoarthritis, can also develop.

Causes of cerebral palsy

Experts with Mayo Clinic note that a “lack of oxygen to the brain (asphyxia) related to difficult labor or delivery” is one factor that can lead to  cerebral palsy. This can occur with umbilical cord complications, excessive bleeding during delivery and delivery of an infant with a head that is larger than the birth canal. In these cases, the physician should notice a drop in the infant’s heartbeat. At this time, the physician is able to take precautions to avoid injuries like cerebral palsy. Possible interventions include an emergency Cesarean section.

Medical professionals are aware of a variety of factors that can increase an infant’s risk of developing the disease, in addition to asphyxia. These factors include:

  • Maternal health issues, certain infections or health problems during pregnancy. Chickenpox and exposure to certain toxins like methyl mercury are some examples.
  • Newborn illness including bacterial meningitis and untreated jaundice.
  • Premature birth of 36 weeks or less. The earlier the baby is born, the greater the risk of developing cerebral palsy.
  • Breech birth, or feet-first position, at the onset of labor.

Physicians can reduce the risk of developing cerebral palsy by proactively addressing these risk factors. Mothers with the listed infections may be advised to seek treatment and precautions can be taken to reduce the risk of premature birth.

Cost of cerebral palsy

Those who suffer from this disorder will likely require medical attention throughout their life. In addition to medical costs, tools for accommodations can also be costly.

If cerebral palsy is the result of a physician’s neglect, compensation may be available to help cover these costs. Contact an experienced cerebral palsy birth injury lawyer to discuss your options.