The cognition issues faced by newborns who suffer brain damage because of a birth injury vary widely, from very mild learning disabilities to severe impairment that prevents independent living. While cerebral palsy is thought of as a motor disorder, many children also suffer cognition issues and intellectual deficits, although they often go undiagnosed until the child reaches school age.
While the brain damage that causes cerebral palsy is also a common cause of cognitive impairment, many children with cerebral palsy do not have any intellectual impairment, and many have above-average intelligence.
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Common Cognitive Issues in Children with Cerebral Palsy and Other Perinatal Brain Damage
Brain damage related to injuries before, during, or after delivery can cause many types of cognitive, behavioral, and emotional disabilities. This may include:
- Problems with fine motor skills that may delay writing or drawing
- Delayed language development and other speech and communication problems
- Delays in learning basic math or reading skills
- Learning disabilities
- Poor decision-making skills and impulsiveness
Brain damage associated with cerebral palsy, in particular, can also cause intellectual and cognitive disabilities. According to data published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, when monitoring a large cohort in one U.S. metropolitan city, they found:
- About six out of every 10 8-year-old children with cerebral palsy also had a developmental disability
- 40% also had an intellectual disability
- About 25% had both epilepsy and an intellectual disability
There is also research to show that those with brain damage that causes cerebral palsy are at an increased risk for autism spectrum disorder.
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Diagnosis of Cognition Issues Often Comes Much Later, Especially When the Issues Are Minor
Often, relatively minor issues involving intellectual disabilities and cognition issues go unnoticed until the child enters school and does not learn in the same way or as quickly as their peers. When the brain damage affects them more, and they have a more severe impairment, the signs may be present much earlier. This means an earlier diagnosis and the opportunity for early intervention.
Children who struggle with speech or otherwise fail to meet the same cognitive milestones as their peers may require speech therapy, occupational therapy, and other interventions to give them the best opportunity to do well in school and keep up with their classmates.
Later on, those with moderate and severe impairments may require an individualized education program (IEP) and increased support at school.
Risk Factors for Cerebral Palsy and Intellectual Disability
A study from Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology that looked at how common intellectual disabilities were in children who suffered brain damage and cerebral palsy, they linked an increased risk of cognition issues with:
- Children who could not walk on their own (47% also had intellectual disabilities)
- Children who walked later (an average age of two years and seven months)
- Hypotonic or dyskinetic cerebral palsy
- A quadriplegic pattern of motor impairment
- Children who also had epilepsy
Overall, the study found that 45% of the participants in the study of children with cerebral palsy also have an intellectual disability.
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Brain Damage Lawsuits
If your child suffers cognition issues, behavioral issues, or an intellectual disability because of a birth injury, you may be eligible to hold the doctor or hospital liable. This is possible if the doctor committed a medical error, failed to prevent a preventable traumatic brain injury, or acted negligently. This commonly occurs when the doctor:
- Fails to adequately monitor the mother and baby before, during, and after birth.
- Delays or misses a diagnosis, allowing the condition to worsen.
- Fails to provide an acceptable standard of care.
- Does not treat the child’s birth complications promptly.
- Uses an improper technique or incorrect protocol during delivery and cause injuries.
If you believe you may have a viable birth injury case based on your child’s brain damage and cognition issues, you should discuss your case with an attorney who practices medical malpractice and takes on birth injury cases in your state. The rules for pursuing this type of case vary by state. Most birth injury attorneys offer free case reviews and initial consultations.
Your attorney will know what it takes to prove a birth injury case in your area, including working with medical experts to understand:
- The acceptable standard of care based on the facts of your case.
- If your doctor acted negligently.
- How your doctor caused or contributed to your child’s brain damage.
- Your child’s prognosis, possible ongoing care and future medical needs, and other information about their diagnosis and care.
Your attorney can attempt to negotiate an out-of-court settlement or take the case to court. If you can get a settlement or award, you may be able to recover damages for:
- Your child’s current and future medical care costs related to their disability
- Ongoing care costs
- Prescribed therapies
- Speech devices and other types of assistive tools
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Pain and suffering
Talk to a Brain Damage Birth Injury Lawyer in Your State
The Birth Injury Lawyers Group will connect you with a birth injury attorney in your state. Call 1-800-222-9529 to get started. You can get your free case evaluation today by reaching out to the Birth Injury Lawyers Group now.