Cerebral Palsy - Chicago Medical Malpractice

Cerebral palsy is a type of birth injury or brain damage which can have a profound effect on your child’s physical and mental functionality. Brain damage at birth can occur from complications during pregnancy, labor, delivery, and/or delivery. About that 5 out of every 1000 children born in the U.S. will suffer some type of birth injury. An injury to a baby’s brain is the most serious birth complication. When a baby suffers brain damage (like cerebral palsy) because of medical malpractice, Illinois law allows families to hold the doctors and other health professionals responsible for their negligence. If your child was injured at birth, it is critical to choose a medical malpractice attorney with the knowledge, dedication, and record of results to effectively investigate and prosecute your child’s case.

Children With Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy (or CP) represents a group of neurological disorders that manifests in infancy or early childhood. CP permanently affects body movement, muscle coordination, and balance. The condition does not worsen over time, but its symptoms can change. Although CP affects muscle movement, it is not caused by problems in the muscles or nerves. Instead, CP is caused by abnormalities in parts of the brain that control muscle movements.

The Signs of Cerebral Palsy

Early signs of cerebral palsy usually manifest before a child reaches age three. Some of the signs and symptoms CP include:

  • Lack of head control
  • Poor motor development
  • Delays in walking or crawling
  • Muscle abnormalities (stiff or over-relaxed muscles)
  • Loss of coordination and balance
  • Difficulty in coordinating and writing
  • Involuntary spasms and movements
  • Problems with hearing, sight, and speech
  • Problems with bladder and bower control
  • Slow general development
  • Seizures

The most common symptoms of CP are a lack of muscle coordination when performing voluntary movements (ataxia); stiff or tight muscles and exaggerated reflexes (spasticity); walking with one foot or leg dragging; walking on the toes, a crouched gait, or a “scissored” gait; and muscle tone that is either too stiff or too floppy. The part of the brain that is damaged determines the parts of the body are affected.

Congenital CP and Acquired CP

Cerebral palsy is either “Congenital” (meaning it is present at birth) or it is “Acquired” after birth. Congenital CP is caused by brain damage during pregnancy or around the time of birth (or perinatal period). A variety of conditions can lead to Acquired CP, including any one of the following:

  • Genetic conditions and blood supply problems to the brain: these can affect how the child’s brain develops during the first 6 months of pregnancy
  • Oxygen shortage: if the oxygen supply to the brain is severely low at the time of birth, the infant may suffer a type of brain damage called hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy.
  • Rh incompatibility: a blood condition that causes the mother’s immune cells to attack the fetus, resulting in jaundice.
  • Severe Jaundice: this can occur in a child during the first weeks after birth
  • Toxicity: drug or alcohol use during pregnancy can result in brain damage.
  • Kidney and urinary tract infections: these infections, if severe and prolonged, in the mother can lead to brain damage within the fetus.
  • Exposure of the expectant mother to certain infections: these infections include rubella, toxoplasmosis and cytomegalovirus
    Severe physical trauma to the mother during pregnancy: auto accidents, bad falls, and other traumatic forces can cause brain damage.

Acquired CP is caused by brain damage in the first few months to years of life. Acquired CP can be caused by various conditions such as brain infections like encephalitis and meningitis can cause brain damage. Head injuries such as from a fall, car accident, or child abuse can also cause Acquired CP.

Medical Mistakes – Cerebral Palsy

Medical mistakes made by doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals can occur at any stage of labor and delivery. Common medical errors that result cerebral palsy and other birth injuries can include any of the following:

  • Failure to recognize fetal distress
  • Failure to order a C-Section in a timely manner
  • Excessive use of a vacuum extractor
  • Failure to detect a prolapsed umbilical cord reducing oxygen supply;
  • Improper use of delivery forceps
  • Failure to properly respond to the baby’s vital signs
  • Failure to properly suction the baby (ie., meconium aspiration)
  • The failure to recognize and treat seizures following delivery
  • Failure to diagnose and treat jaundice or meningitis

The following incidents may indicate the possibility of a medical malpractice claim against the hospital, doctors, and/or other healthcare staff:

  • The use of resuscitation (CPR) after birth
  • Emergency delivery with forceps, or by c-section
  • Special testing after birth, such as an MRI scan, CT scan or brain scan
  • A specialist may not have been consulted when necessary
Medical Malpractice Office – Cerebral Palsy (Brain Damage)

Although cerebral palsy can occur without malpractice, medical mistakes can and do occur during labor and delivery. Unfortunately, cerebral palsy and other brain injuries are among the most devastating forms of medical negligence. The time, effort, and expense needed to care for a brain damage child can be overwhelming. Families with children suffering from a brain damage should consult a medical malpractice lawyer with a proven record of success and a dedication to personal service. If you or a loved has a child who has brain damage or cerebral palsy caused by possible malpractice, we invite you to contact Chicago Birth Injury Attorney Jason M. Kroot of Kroot Law, LLC, for a free consultation.

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