Cerebral palsy (CP) is a group of neurological disorders that affect movement, posture, reflexes, coordination, and balance. While in many instances, there is no known exact cause, there are a variety of known risk factors that can put a baby at increased odds of developing the condition. From maternal health issues to environmental factors, this blog post will dive into the different risk factors associated with the development of cerebral palsy.
Complications During Pregnancy or Childbirth Due to Medical Malpractice
One of the most significant risk factors for cerebral palsy is medical negligence during pregnancy or childbirth. This can include:
- Failure to diagnose health issues in the mother during prenatal care
- Failing to properly monitor the baby's heart rate during delivery or
- Not responding quickly enough when there are signs of distress in either mother or baby
- Improper use of medical instruments, like forceps, during delivery
If it can be proven that these issues were due to medical negligence, then it may be possible for those affected by CP to receive compensation for their suffering as a result.
Prematurity and Low Birth Weight
Premature babies — those born before 37 weeks gestation — are also at an increased risk for developing CP. Similarly, babies born with low birth weight (less than 5.5 pounds) are also more likely to develop CP than those born at normal weight levels. There is no one cause for prematurity or low birth weight; any combination of factors such as genetics and environmental influences during pregnancy can cause it.
Medical professionals should be trained to identify the signs of preterm delivery or low birth weight, both of which can increase a baby's risk for developing cerebral palsy. These signs include early contractions and changes in fetal position, as well as irregular heart rate patterns and decreased fetal movement. Early diagnosis is essential to ensure that preventive measures are administered quickly.
Infections During Pregnancy or Delivery
Certain infections during pregnancy or delivery can increase the risk for CP in newborn infants. These infections may include:
- Toxoplasmosis (a parasitic infection) - A parasitic infection that can be transmitted to humans through consumption of undercooked meat.
- Rubella (German measles) - A viral infection that commonly causes a mild rash and fever in children and adults.
- Cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection - A contagious virus that can cause mild to severe health problems in people with weakened immune systems.
- Herpes simplex virus (HSV) - A contagious virus that causes painful blisters on the skin and sometimes in other body parts.
- Urinary tract infections - Caused by bacteria and can affect any part of the urinary system, including the kidneys, bladder, and urethra.
- Bacterial meningitis - An infection of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord, which can potentially be life-threatening.
- Viral encephalitis - A serious neurological condition caused by the inflammation of the brain, usually due to a viral infection.
It is important medical professionals take all necessary precautions against these infections in order to help a mother reduce their baby's chances of developing CP later on down the line.
Several risk factors can increase the likelihood of someone developing cerebral palsy, and medical professionals need to be properly trained to identify the signs so that preventive measures can be taken and proper care provided for those affected by the condition. Although there is no one guaranteed way to prevent the onset of cerebral palsy, the more we understand its risk factors, the better our chances are at minimizing them.
How Daniel, Holoman & Associates LLP Can Help
At Daniel, Holoman & Associates LLP, our attorneys are dedicated to helping those affected by cerebral palsy. We understand that this condition is a serious and life-altering one, and we strive to ensure the best possible outcome for each and every case. If you or your loved one have been affected by cerebral palsy due to medical negligence or other factors, contact us today to learn more about how we can help.
Call our firm today at (866) 380-2281 or fill out our form for a free initial consultation.