Signs of Cerebral Palsy in Babies

The birth of a new baby is a miraculous moment in a family’s life and at the top of the list of a parent’s precious memories. But what if the memory of that extraordinary life event was later clouded by the understanding that your child suffered a birth injury resulting in cerebral palsy? An estimated 1 in every 345 children in the United States has a diagnosis of cerebral palsy, a neurological disease in which the brain isn’t able to control the muscle movements, muscle tone, or posture in the body, causing disability.

Cerebral palsy is a birth injury caused by a lack of oxygen to the infant’s brain during a difficult or traumatic labor and birth. The experienced Louisville medical malpractice attorneys at our law firm share that cerebral palsy is the most common serious birth injury.

Early Signs of Cerebral Palsy

Many children with cerebral palsy don’t receive a diagnosis until age two or later, but some signs of cerebral palsy occur soon after birth. Because the signs can be subtle, may resemble symptoms of other conditions, or are considered within the norm for infants, they’re sometimes missed. Early signs of cerebral palsy in children include:

  • Joint and muscle stiffness or floppiness
  • Overextension of the back and neck when picked up
  • Excessive drooling
  • Stiff or crossed legs
  • Difficulty lifting the head
  • Grasping problems
  • Difficulty bringing the hands together as in clapping motions

It’s easy to miss early signs of cerebral palsy. The majority of cases aren’t diagnosed until age two or later after a toddler has a history of delayed milestones and other symptoms.

Cerebral Palsy Symptoms in Toddlers

Doctors typically make a diagnosis of cerebral palsy in toddlers between 18 months and two years old, but sometimes the diagnosis takes longer depending on the severity of symptoms. Signs and symptoms of cerebral palsy in toddlers include the following:

  • Milestone delays, including failing to sit up unsupported by 8 months and inability to walk by 18 months
  • Weakness in the arms and legs
  • Random, fidgety, jerky, or uncontrolled movements
  • Tremors in the hands
  • Muscles spasms
  • Stiffness
  • Floppiness
  • Tip-toe walking

Our specialized cerebral palsy lawyers in Louisville share that no two children with cerebral palsy have exactly the same symptoms. In some cases, cerebral palsy affects the child’s body on only one side or mainly in the legs and lower body.

Subtypes of Cerebral Palsy

Spastic Cerebral Palsy is the most common type affecting birth-injured children. Depending on the part of the body affected, spastic cerebral palsy includes 3 subtypes:

  • Diplegia: spastic symptoms impact the child’s legs and lower body, causing difficulty walking
  • Hemiplegia: symptoms affect the right or left side of the body only while not affecting the other side
  • Quadriplegia: symptoms affect the entire body and all four limbs

Though spastic cerebral palsy is the most common, occurring in about 80% of cases, other categories of cerebral palsy include:

  • Dyskinetic cerebral palsy: affects arms, legs, and sometimes the face with jerky muscle movements
  • Ataxic cerebral palsy: impacts coordination and balance in children, leaving them with clumsy movements and difficulty balancing
  • Mixed CP: the child has a mix of two or more subtypes

Spastic dyskinetic cerebral palsy is the most commonly diagnosed cerebral palsy in children.

Birth Injuries and Cerebral Palsy

A baby’s brain requires an uninterrupted flow of blood and oxygen. During pregnancy and childbirth, the baby is vulnerable to trauma resulting in the loss of critical blood and oxygen flow to the brain. When medical providers fail to swiftly address the lack of oxygen it results in the specific brain damage that causes cerebral palsy in babies or during early childhood. Working with an experienced birth injury lawyer in Louisville can help you understand your legal rights to compensation if your baby’s cerebral palsy was caused by a negligent medical professional.