Cerebral palsy is caused by damage to the brain cells in utero or early in life. The damage can happen during pregnancy, during labor and delivery, or shortly after a baby is born. There are multiple potential causes of brain damage.
Deprivation of oxygen and/or bloodflow
Obstetrical complications during pregnancy and/or delivery can interrupt the flow of oxygen and/or blood to the infant’s brain. The brain cells can quickly suffer damage as a result, depending on the severity of the deprivation.
Delayed cesarean delivery
Complications, such as umbilical cord problems resulting in fetal stress, can severely compromise blood and oxygen supply to the brain. An emergency C-section may be the only way to protect the baby from oxygen deprivation. Doctors can unnecessarily delay performing an emergency C-section, causing infant brain damage. The result is often cerebral palsy.
If maternal infections are not diagnosed and treated correctly, they can interrupt the flow of oxygen and/or bloodflow and damage a fetus’s brain.
Excessive force on an infant’s head can cause internal damage that could result in cerebral palsy. For example, negligent use of devices like obstetrical forceps and vacuum extractors can cause external head trauma.
Premature babies experience brain injuries like hemorrhage and PVL (periventricular leukomalacia) frequently. These injuries can damage the brain and result in cerebral palsy.
Without treatment, jaundice poses a risk of brain damage and cerebral palsy.
How Cerebral Palsy Affects a Child
Cerebral palsy affects muscle tone, posture, and body movement. Its severity can vary widely. The disability may affect the whole body, be confined to the right or left side of the body, or affect just one limb. A moderate case may only involve awkward movements or a limp. Severe cases can confine a child to a wheelchair.
Cerebral palsy can lead to additional issues like:
- Problems with vision and hearing
- Learning disabilities
- Speech disorders
Cerebral palsy has no effective treatment or cure. The brain damage that causes CP cannot be reversed. Caring for children with the condition is expensive. When cerebral palsy is caused by negligence, parents can file a lawsuit against medical professionals and hospitals. Birth injury attorneys can help determine if the treating professionals made mistakes and should be held liable for damages.