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What Causes Cerebral Palsy?

Woman looking at papers with doctor

When a child is diagnosed with cerebral palsy (CP), a parent’s first question is, “how could this happen?” They want to know who or what is responsible for their child’s condition. To get a better understanding of what causes cerebral palsy, let’s look at the evidence.

Birth Injury?

The most important thing to understand about cerebral palsy is that, one way or another, it is caused by a brain injury or brain malformation. Typically, physicians refer to cerebral palsy as either “congenital” or “acquired” meaning the child was either born with a brain injury or they sustained a birth injury or they sustained a birth injury resulting in CP during labor, delivery or shortly after.

Birth injuries resulting in CP often come down to medical negligence. It may be a doctor unfamiliar with using forceps, improper use of suction-assisted delivery, failing to intervene for a worsening fetal heart rate, or even administering too much Pitocin. Whatever the cause, medical personnel should be held responsible when their negligence causes irreversible harm.


Cerebral palsy is a brain injury, meaning it cannot be passed down to children any more than a cut or a broken bone. However, hereditary factors and issues with the mother’s health increase the risk of an injury resulting in cerebral palsy.

A brain injury could occur during the second or third trimester due to an STD, a placental abruption, extremely high blood pressure, or even breech birth positioning (when the baby comes out feet first). For these reasons, it’s extremely important that expecting mothers schedule routine visits with their OBGYN to regulate their own health and address early warning signs.

In rare cases, the brain can form abnormally by itself. The baby will be born with cerebral palsy, not because of a brain injury or because the condition is hereditary, but because of random changes in copying their genes. Brains are extremely delicate organs; any issue in the development process before, during, or after birth can lead to a lifetime of challenges.

If you suspect your child’s cerebral palsy is due to a doctor’s negligence, we are here for you. If you’d like to schedule a free consultation with an experienced North Carolina birth injury attorney from Daniel, Holoman & Associates LLP, don’t hesitate to send us an email or call (866) 380-2281.