Is Cerebral Palsy Always a Birth Injury, and Can I Make a Claim?

Cerebral Palsy

Having a child receive a cerebral palsy diagnosis is one of the hardest realities for a parent to bear. We all want the best for our kids, and many families in this situation want to explore their legal options.

However, not every case of cerebral palsy will give you cause to file a lawsuit. Your legal rights depend on how the injury was caused.

What Are the Causes of Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy refers to brain damage that includes the cerebral cortex, the part of the brain that directs muscle movement. There are many ways a baby’s brain can be damaged either before, during, or just after birth. They include:

  • Genetic mutations
  • Maternal infection
  • Fetal stroke
  • Bleeding in the brain
  • Infections that cause the brain to swell
  • Traumatic head injury
  • Lack of oxygen during a difficult labor or delivery

Therefore, birth injuries account for only a percentage of cerebral palsy diagnoses each year.

Knowing the cause of your child’s cerebral palsy is the first step toward determining whether you can make a claim. For instance, a family with genetic risk factors for the disease would have a hard time convincing any jury their child’s condition was caused by a negligent doctor.

At the same time, finding a cause may require some investigation—especially if your child was not diagnosed right away. Our team knows how to investigate medical malpractice cases and can lend our experience to your claim.

How Cerebral Palsy Can Be a Birth Injury

There are two ways the brain may be damaged during a difficult labor or delivery. Traumatic brain injuries result from physical trauma to the head. This might be caused by a doctor who used forceps to assist the delivery but applied too much pressure to the baby’s skull. Brain bleeds resulting from improper use of vacuum extractors can increase pressure within the skull, essentially squeezing brain cells until they die.

Anoxic brain injury, or brain cell death caused by lack of oxygen, is another potential cause of cerebral palsy. Anoxia can be caused when the pressure of contractions cuts off the flow of blood through the umbilical cord. Difficult deliveries often involve a sustained period of contractions, and in these cases, the fetus’ vital signs must be carefully monitored. Anoxic injury can also be caused by rare complications like umbilical prolapse, uterine rupture, and placental abruption.

If you experienced these complications during labor and your child was later diagnosed with cerebral palsy, you will have a strong basis for your claim. Though most are not directly caused by physicians, every delivery team must be ready to intervene when something goes wrong during labor.

Medical Malpractice Claims and Cerebral Palsy

Some potential causes of cerebral palsy may not be considered a birth injury but could still be related to a doctor’s negligence. During prenatal visits, a physician should be alert for signs of maternal infection. Any infection that goes untreated could cause adverse effects in the developing fetus. A doctor should also look for complications like preeclampsia and gestational diabetes that are linked to a higher risk of fatal stroke.

Infection after birth can also cause cerebral palsy. It’s known hospitals are hotbeds of infection, and improper contamination control procedures often result in the transmission of dangerous bacteria and viruses. If your baby suffered a serious infection right after birth, it’s possible it was passed to them at or shortly after birth, by medical caregivers.

We File Cerebral Palsy Claims

Raising a child with cerebral palsy is no less rewarding than raising a child without a brain injury, but it comes with extra expenses many families are not equipped to handle. We want to make sure parents have the resources they need to access care and educational assistance for their child.

If you believe your child developed cerebral palsy in response to medical negligence, it’s worth considering whether to file a claim. After listening to your story, our attorneys can share how we can help. With extensive experience investigating medical claims and a record that includes over 100 medical malpractice cases tied to verdict, we can provide the skill and knowledge you need to pursue a legal remedy.

Call The Law Office of Marshall Silberberg today at (949) 565-4281 to schedule a free consultation. Our attorneys have won over $500 million for our clients.

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