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Cerebral palsy is the number one most common motor disability in children in the United States. Nearly 10,000 babies born each year in the US will develop cerebral palsy, meaning that two to three children out of 1,000 are diagnosed with the condition. 764,000 people in the United States are currently diagnosed with cerebral palsy.
Cerebral palsy is a general term for many types of conditions that affect motor skills and movement control. The condition is normally the result of damaged or incorrectly developed nerves. While the majority of babies with CP are born with the condition, it can also be the result of trauma during birth, notably from hypoxia or a reduced flow of oxygen to the baby’s brain.
If your child has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy as a result of negligence during birth, contact Gilman & Bedigian today for a free consultation and to learn more about your options for settlement.
Types of Cerebral Palsy
There are three main types of cerebral palsy:
Spastic– Spastic is the most common cerebral palsy, and includes 80% of all cerebral palsy cases. It involves issues with specific muscle groups that cause stiffness and effect movement.
Ataxic– Ataxic accounts for 10% of all cerebral palsy cases, and is characterized by involuntary movement, and problems with balance and depth perception.
Athetoid– Athetoid also appears in 10% of all cerebral palsy cases, and is characterized by uncontrolled and involuntary movements, slurred speech, and slight muscle tone.
Cerebral Palsy Statistics
Medical studies on cerebral palsy show that:
- 1 out of 3 CP patients cannot walk
- 3 out of 4 CP patients are in pain, either resulting from muscle spasms or inconsistent muscle tone
- 1 out of 4 CP patients have epilepsy
- 1 out of 4 CP patients have emotional and behavioral problems, including depression, anxiety, and emotional outbursts
- 1 out of 10 CP patients has vision problems
- 25% of CP patients have cognitive problems
Causes of Cerebral Palsy
Doctors do not fully understand what all the underlying causes of cerebral palsy are. They understand the medical issues that cause it, but not why those issues appear in the first place. In rare instances, babies in the womb can develop cerebral palsy as a result of an infection in the mother, or can develop it during or after birth as a result of other infections or traumatic injuries.
Medical malpractice surrounding cerebral palsy is specifically related to the injuries during birth that lead to cerebral palsy, and the negligence of doctors that may have contributed to those injuries.
- Birth injuries that can result in cerebral palsy include:
- Misuse of assisted delivery tools
- Negligently allowing the baby to be deprived of oxygen
- Prolonged labor
- Failing to conduct a timely C-section or failing to schedule a C-section if needed
- Failure to diagnose infections in the mother, like meningitis
There is no current cure for cerebral palsy, only medication that can help alleviate specific symptoms and pain as they arise.
Preventing Cerebral Palsy During Delivery
While childbirth can be traumatic, cerebral palsy as a result of birth injuries is normally preventable. Your doctor should already be monitoring the baby’s heart rate and oxygen levels for signs of fetal distress, should be able to properly use assisted delivery tools, and should know when to induce labor or call for an emergency C-section. When a doctor fails to act reasonably in these situations, permanent injuries like cerebral palsy can occur.
There are also signs doctors can look for before and during birth that put babies at higher risk for cerebral palsy. These include:
- Premature birth
- Low birthweight
- Multiple births, like twins
- Prolapsed umbilical cord
- A mother who is over 40 or under 20
- Infections in the mother during her pregnancy
- The use of some infertility treatments
- Other medical conditions in the mother, like cognitive issues or seizures
- Birth complications that could effect the baby’s oxygen supply, like detached placenta, wrapped umbilical cord, and uterine rupture
Cerebral Palsy Symptoms
Symptoms of cerebral palsy in children include:
- Slurred or broken speech
- Low muscle tone
- Difficulty learning to crawl and walk
- Muscle spasms or muscle pain
These symptoms can appear in children up to three years after birth.
When a Birth Injury Results in Cerebral Palsy
Medical expenses for a child with cerebral palsy are high; according to statistics the cost of raising a child with CP is ten times higher than the cost of raising a child without disability. The additional average cost for raising a child with CP is $921,000, but this figure doesn’t include lost wages, future medical expenses, care needs, respite care, and other out of pocket expenses incurred by families grappling with this horrible disease.
If your child was diagnosed with cerebral palsy that you believe may be due to negligence during birth, you should not be burdened with financial issues as a result of a doctor’s negligence, and you may be entitled to a settlement to cover the costs of past and future medical care. The attorneys at Gilman & Bedigian are experienced in medical malpractice and dedicated to helping your family through the legal process.