No parent wants to hear that his or her child is suffering from a medical condition, particularly one as debilitating as cerebral palsy. Unfortunately, an estimated 10,000 children are diagnosed with cerebral palsy each year. Much about the disease remains unknown; however, it has been shown that pre-birth infections and birth injuries can cause cerebral palsy, and these causes can be due to medical negligence.
If you believe your child has cerebral palsy resulting from medical negligence, contact the experienced New York Cerebral Palsy attorneys at Schwartzapfel Lawyers P.C. Our skilled medical negligence attorneys have a network of medical experts with the knowledge you need to assess your child’s case.
How Cerebral Palsy Could Affect Your Child
Cerebral palsy is a term used to describe a wide group of chronic disorders (palsies) that impair muscle control caused by damage to a developing brain. Cerebral palsy is considered a brain disorder because the damage to the brain does not get worse over time; however, the symptoms that cerebral palsy causes can get better or worse throughout a person’s life.
Depending on the location and severity of damage to the brain complications could include:
- Impaired gross motor skills (moving arms and legs)
- Impaired fine motor skills (grasping and manipulating objects)
- Muscle spasms
- Difficulty with speech
- Mental retardation
- Complete lack of muscle control
Cerebral palsy cannot be cured, although treatment options do exist. Treatments for children afflicted with cerebral palsy can include drug and chemical therapies, physical therapy, and surgery. Studies show that early intervention in children with cerebral palsy can improve a person’s quality of life.
Cerebral Palsy Can Be Caused By Medical Malpractice
There are multiple reasons a person becomes afflicted with cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy can either be congenital or acquired. Congenital cerebral palsy makes up 85-90% of all cerebral palsy cases and is related to brain damage that happened before or during birth. Acquired cerebral palsy is caused by brain damage that occurs more than 28 days after a child is born, and is usually associated with an infection or head injury. Whether a child suffers from congenital or acquired cerebral palsy, medical malpractice could be implicated.
Risk Factors Associated With Congenital Cerebral Palsy
During a birth, the treating obstetrician in New York is required to monitor the progress of labor and the status of a fetus in a timely and vigilant fashion through frequent examinations and electronic fetal heart monitoring either abdominally or internally. Frequent examinations and understanding of the mother’s medical history can identify whether any of the following issues are present:
- Low weight
- Premature birth
- Multiple births
- Assisted reproductive technology infertility treatments
- Infections present during pregnancy, whether in the mother or fetus
- Jaundice and kernicterus
- Maternal medical conditions
- Childbirth complications that cause reduced oxygen to the baby’s brain or trauma that affects the nerves.
Failure to identify or diagnose medical issues that can lead to cerebral palsy may be cause for a medical malpractice claim.
Likewise, trauma that occurs during birth, which may have resulted from the physician failing to properly address low oxygen issues or order a cesarean section if the baby was in distress, can be considered malpractice. For example, if vacuum extractors or forceps are used improperly or with excessive force these tools can cause significant trauma to the soft tissue of the infant’s skull to the point where bleeding and damage occurs to the brain.
Any medications utilized during the birthing process must also be correctly administered to prevent injuries to the fetus. Overdoses of certain drugs can affect breathing in the mother, which affects fetal oxygen supplies. The treating physician must ensure that the fetus receives enough oxygen and maintains proper blood pH levels during birth.
Potential Causes in Acquired Cerebral Palsy
Acquired cerebral palsy can be caused by illness, infections, or traumas such as:
- Meningitis or encephalitis
- Brain injuries caused by auto accidents or child abuse
- Cerebrovascular events such as stroke or bleeding in the brain
If your child’s physician failed to diagnose an infection in your child or any heart or vascular defects, you may have a claim for medical negligence.
Legal Help For Cerebral Palsy Caused During Birth
If the treating physician or obstetrician fails to prevent the conditions described above or fails to react in a timely manner when these conditions are present, they may be considered to have acted in a manner not consistent with established medical practices and might be held responsible for medical malpractice.
If you believe your child’s cerebral palsy is the result of medical malpractice, our New York-based team of experienced malpractice attorneys can help. We have a proven track record of success, and our attorneys are well-prepared to handle all your legal needs. Contact us today at 1-888-575-6410 or fill out our online contact form for a free case evaluation. We will fight for you!