Houston Texas Lawyer Blog

Is Cerebral Palsy Preventable?

October 16, 2020 Medical Malpractice

Was my child’s cerebral palsy preventable? The answer to this question is “it may have been.” But it depends upon the cause. Sometimes even with the best medical care possible, cerebral palsy can develop. In other cases, though, cerebral palsy may be due to subpar treatment of mothers and babies by doctors, nurses, or other healthcare practitioners. It often can be hard to figure out the exact cause and whether it was preventable.

If you suspect your child’s cerebral palsy should not have happened, you may wish to speak with an attorney who focuses on medical malpractice cases. An experienced malpractice lawyer will retain medical experts to closely review your specific circumstances, including your medical records. The attorney can then advise you whether your child’s cerebral palsy may have been preventable.

Types of Cerebral Palsy and How They Happen

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that one in 345 children in the United States have cerebral palsy, which is caused by damage to the brain, most often during pregnancy or childbirth. The disorder is more common in boys than girls. In many cases, the cause is never known.

There are three categories of the disorder. A small number of cases are related to genetics. These cases are not preventable. Cases that fall within the categories of congenital cerebral palsy and acquired cerebral palsy may be preventable.

What Is Congenital Cerebral Palsy?

Most cerebral palsy cases are congenital. Congenital cerebral palsy happens during pregnancy or childbirth. Sometimes it can be hard to figure out exactly how it happens, but risk factors that can contribute to a child’s having cerebral palsy include:

  • Premature birth or low birth weight
  • Infections during pregnancy
  • Maternal illnesses
  • Use of fertility drugs to get pregnant
  • Complications during birth which result in reduced oxygen to the brain.

What Is Acquired Cerebral Palsy?

Acquired cerebral palsy is when the disorder happens at least 28 days after birth. An infant develops it because of some type of trauma or illness that affects the brain. The most common reasons for acquired cerebral palsy are infant brain infections, and accidental or intentional head trauma. Sometimes heart defects that went undiagnosed at birth, or other things that reduce blood flow to the brain, can cause acquired cerebral palsy.

How Can Cerebral Palsy Be Prevented?

Proper medical care during pregnancy and delivery and after birth may help to prevent cerebral palsy. When medical issues are improperly managed or not noticed during pregnancy and childbirth, it can lead to health problems in the mother and/or baby, including cerebral palsy.

Here are some examples of mistakes doctors may make during pregnancy and delivery that could harm infants:

  • Not correctly treating an illness or infection in the mother, resulting in brain damage to the baby
  • Not noticing a heart defect or treating an infection of the baby at birth, which could lead to acquired cerebral palsy
  • Giving medications to mothers during pregnancy that could be dangerous to the fetus
  • Not realizing when a fetus is in distress, such as from a slowing heartbeat, and a C-section is needed
  • Not recognizing that there is an umbilical cord problem, the baby is in a breech position, or there is another issue that requires immediate attention
  • Improperly using forceps and other medical tools.

Treatment for Cerebral Palsy Is Expensive

Unfortunately, there is no cure for cerebral palsy. And treatments such as medications, physical therapy, and surgeries to improve a child’s quality of life can be very expensive. If you think your child’s cerebral palsy was caused by a doctor and could have been prevented, you might want to speak with an experienced medical malpractice attorney. If it can be proven that malpractice happened, you could receive compensation to pay for medical treatment for your child and other damages they have suffered.

The amount of compensation an attorney might be able to get for you in a medical malpractice claim generally depends on the degree of negligence and how severely your child was harmed.

Signs and Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy

Signs of cerebral palsy usually show up in the first or second year of infancy. Symptoms of the disorder can include:

  • A delay in reaching milestones like rolling over, sitting, and crawling
  • Stiffness or floppiness
  • Stiff legs that cross or scissor
  • Tremors
  • Involuntary and uncontrollable movements
  • Lack of coordination
  • Seizures
  • A hard time nursing or eating
  • Excessive drooling
  • Delayed speech or difficulty speaking.

Cerebral palsy can affect the entire body, one side only, or a single arm or leg. If you see any of these signs or simply feel something isn’t right, take your child to the doctor for a diagnosis. If you get a diagnosis of cerebral palsy and think it could have been caused by medical malpractice, speak to a Houston medical malpractice attorney right away.

There is a statute of limitations for bringing medical malpractice claims. It is generally two years from the date the problem was discovered. ***There are many exceptions to this rule and other deadlines, though, so always speak directly to an attorney about your case for the exact deadlines that may apply.

Get Answers from a Malpractice Lawyer Experienced in Cerebral Palsy Cases

Having a baby is something most parents look forward to. It is supposed to be a joyful time. When you find out something is physically wrong with your young child, it can be devastating, not only emotionally but financially. If the injury was caused by a doctor or other medical provider, you might feel confused or even angry. After all, doctors are supposed to help, not harm. Unfortunately, sometimes busy and stressed doctors and medical staff make errors that cause serious injuries and lead to medical malpractice cases.

If you believe medical malpractice was the cause of your child’s cerebral palsy, turn to our compassionate lawyers at the accident and injury law office of Terry Bryant for help. We will carefully examine the evidence to discover whether a negligent doctor or other healthcare professional hurt your child. If it looks like medical malpractice occurred, we will fight to get compensation for your child’s cerebral palsy. Call us today to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys at (713) 973-8888, or toll-free 1 (800) 444-5000.

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