Every single hour in the United States, a baby is born with cerebral palsy, and it is the most common childhood physical disability. It is important to note that cerebral palsy is not one single illness or disorder; it is an umbrella term that is used to describe a group of disorders that develop as a result of damage to the developing brain. While it is a permanent condition and can lead to life-long physical disability, its effects can change over time. In most cases, cerebral palsy is caused by a brain injury that occurs during pregnancy and becomes evident within the first 12-18 months of the child’s life.
Cerebral palsy can lead to a range of issues, from mild to severe motor disabilities, hearing impairment, problems with vision, and weakness in one or both hands to a complete inability to move, which requires round-the-clock, 24-hour care. Treatments for cerebral palsy can also be expensive, and you may be faced with substantial medical bills, time away from work, and other lost opportunities while you care for your child.
Beyond the pain and suffering of the child diagnosed with cerebral palsy, the child’s family may face significant financial, physical, and emotional stress. We understand these challenges and are here to help you navigate the complex world of medical insurance, getting your child the care he or she needs, and conducting a thorough review of your case to determine how and why your child developed cerebral palsy. To learn more, call us at (800) 222-9529 for a free and confidential case evaluation.
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The Importance of Determining Cause
In the event of a cerebral palsy diagnosis, the focus of the family will likely be how to cope with this new life challenge. However, an often-neglected facet of coping with and treating a cerebral palsy diagnosis is understanding how and why the illness occurred in the first place.
If you can determine how, when, and why your child developed cerebral palsy, you can have better peace of mind and your health care services providers can better treat the condition. Furthermore, root-cause determination of your child’s condition can help school administrators assess your child for early education interventions, and government agencies can work to provide you with additional benefits you may need. In short, a formal diagnosis of your child’s cerebral palsy will help you better plan for his or her future.
There are many other benefits of determining the cause of cerebral palsy. A family that wants to conceive more children may learn of family or genetic issues that may lead to similar outcomes, and they will be able to take additional precautions to prevent cerebral palsy in children they may have in the future. And, very importantly, parents may be able to determine whether anything they did, or perhaps failed to do during their pregnancy, delivery, or soon after the birth of their child contributed to their child’s cerebral palsy.
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Causes of Cerebral Palsy
Common causes of cerebral palsy include:
- Brain infections during pregnancy or infancy, such as meningitis or encephalitis.
- Brain injury, either in the womb, during delivery (by, for example, incorrect use of vacuum extractors or other birthing equipment), or after birth from, for example, a fall, a vehicle injury, or child abuse.
- Low blood oxygen levels, stroke, bleeding in the brain, or heart defects.
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Several risk factors can increase a child’s chances of developing cerebral palsy. These include the following.
Low Birth Weight
Children who weigh less than five and a half pounds at birth have a higher chance of developing cerebral palsy than children with normal birth weight.
Children born before the 37th week of pregnancy have a higher chance of developing cerebral palsy than children born after week 37. Although premature babies have better chances of surviving today than they did a few decades ago, many medical issues related to premature birth can lead to cerebral palsy.
Children born as one of multiple births have a higher risk of cerebral palsy. There is more correlation between cerebral palsy and cases of multiple births, early birth, and lower birth weight than there is between cerebral palsy and normal, single-baby pregnancies.
Infections can increase specific proteins in the blood and brain of the baby during pregnancy, causing inflammation and brain damage in the baby. Fever in the mother, either during pregnancy or during delivery, can cause the same problem. Chickenpox, German measles, and bacterial infections can also place a child at risk for cerebral palsy.
As noted earlier, injury sustained by the baby during delivery can lead to brain damage, either through physical means (for example, via incorrect use of equipment to extract the baby from the womb) or via other complications (such as low blood oxygen levels or entanglement of the baby with the umbilical cord).
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Expenses for Children with Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral Palsy is not curable; there are, however, several treatment options available that can help children diagnosed with cerebral palsy lead a productive and independent life. These include the following:
- Physical or occupational therapy
- Assistive technologies
These treatments can be costly and can place a large financial (not to mention emotional) burden on the family, in addition to the pain and suffering of the child who likely will face lifelong challenges while dealing with his or her disability.
It is not uncommon for cerebral palsy to be caused by mistakes made by a physician, a nurse, the hospital, or another caregiver during the mother’s pregnancy, during delivery, or soon after birth. If a medical mistake led to a child’s cerebral palsy, you may be entitled to settlement benefits to help cover treatment expenses. We can help you investigate the circumstances surrounding your child’s birth to determine whether or not his or her cerebral palsy diagnosis was a result of medical negligence.
State-specific filing deadlines, case requirements, and satisfying the burden of proof will determine how you go about the claims process, so call us today at (800) 222-9529 for a private, no-obligation consultation with one of our birth injury accident experts to learn more about your rights and what you should do to ensure your future and that of your child are secure. Call now at and let the Birth Injury Lawyer Group help you plan for your child’s future.