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Top Ways Medical Professionals Cause Cerebral Palsy at Birth

Doctors talking to one another

When people go into labor, a majority go into the care of medical professionals. Typically, doctors, nurses, and supporting staff all do their jobs correctly, resulting in a healthy baby boy or girl.

However, medical professionals aren’t perfect, which means they make mistakes from time to time. Unfortunately, their delivery room medical malpractice can result in life-altering brain injuries in infants. Therefore, every future parent should know the top negligent causes of cerebral palsy in infants.

Oxygen & the Brain

Every human needs oxygen to live, as oxygen is the fuel that breaks down sugars in our cells to produce energy. In fact, humans are so dependant on oxygen that one minute of oxygen deprivation can result in damaged brain cells.

Typically, cell damage isn’t a big deal, as the human body sustains between 50-75 billion cell deaths a day. However, brain cell damage is significant because it impacts neurons, and the human body is limited in its ability to regenerate nerve cells.

Therefore, even one minute of oxygen deprivation can result in permanent brain damage. However, three minutes of oxygen deprivation is much more likely to cause cerebral palsy and other complications.

There are many reasons why an infant would suffer oxygen deprivation during delivery. The causes split into two categories, anoxic brain injuries, and hypoxic brain injuries.

Anoxic & Hypoxic Brain Injuries

Anoxic brain injuries are situations where the brain suffers complete oxygen deprivation; in other words, the infant is not breathing at all. Hypoxic brain injuries occur when the brain receives less oxygen than it needs, but the infant’s oxygen supply is not cut off completely.

There are many causes of anoxic and hypoxic brain injuries in infants during deliveries:

  • Umbilical cord strangulation (nuchal cords);
  • Umbilical cord knots;
  • Prolonged births;
  • Improper use of medication;
  • Gestational diabetes;
  • Abnormal fetal position;
  • Hypertension and preeclampsia.

Unfortunately, some medical professionals are not as attentive as they should be when monitoring infants’ oxygen levels, resulting in cerebral palsy-inducing oxygen deprivation. In other circumstances, doctors may fail to heed or identify preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, or other maternal complications that can lead to infantile oxygen deprivation.

Doctors can avoid some of these obstacles by closely monitoring mothers diagnosed with gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and other maternal complications. Additionally, a timely c-section order can save an infant from anoxia or hypoxia resulting from cord strangulations, cord knots, and abnormal fetal positions.

Now that we’ve covered oxygen deprivation, let’s talk about post-delivery medical professional negligence that can result in cerebral palsy.

Failure to Diagnose Neonatal Complications

Although successfully delivering a child brings a sigh of relief for mothers and medical professionals alike, there is still much work to due. Now that the infant is in the world, it’s time to test the child’s health. Part of the process is identifying common post-delivery issues like jaundice, meningitis, and low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).

Unfortunately, a misdiagnosis concerning any of these issues can result in the development of cerebral palsy.


Jaundice occurs when a baby has a high level of bilirubin in his or her blood. Bilirubin is a yellow substance created by the body to replace old red blood cells. Therefore, jaundice typically stems from conditions that increase the number of red blood cells in a baby’s body, thus, increasing the amount of bilirubin the body creates.

While typically not harmful, an abnormally high level of bilirubin can cause kernicterus. Kernicterus is when the concentration of bilirubin in a baby’s system is so high that it moves out of the blood and into brain tissues. This can lead to cerebral palsy inducing brain damage and hearing loss.


Meningitis occurs when the membranes that line the brain and spinal cord become inflamed. The inflammation typically stems from bacteria, viruses, and funguses. Babies under the age of 2 are at the highest risk of getting meningitis, and some babies are born with it.

Long-term effects of undiagnosed meningitis include:

  • Cerebral palsy;
  • Blindness;
  • Deafness;
  • Seizures.

Low Blood Sugar

Low blood sugar in newborns (neonatal hypoglycemia) is when infants’ blood sugar levels are abnormally low. This condition can cause brain damage in babies because blood sugar (glucose) fuels brain development and brain function.

Common causes of neonatal low blood sugar include:

  • Too much insulin in the blood;
  • The baby is not producing glucose efficiently;
  • The baby’s body is demanding more glucose than it’s supplying.

As you can see, any one of these complications can result in cerebral palsy. Therefore, neonatal medical professionals must accurately identify and treat these issues.

If a professional fails to diagnose and treat one of these conditions and causes cerebral palsy in an infant, a medical malpractice lawsuit can obtain just compensation for the victim and his or her family.

Cerebral Palsy & Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

Medical malpractice claims hold medical professionals financially responsible for the injuries they’ve caused their patients. Therefore, if a medical professional’s negligence causes your newborn to develop cerebral palsy, you have the right to pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Berthold Law Firm, PLLC is proud to advocate for justice on behalf of infants who suffer life-altering injuries due to human error. Our award-winning legal team has recovered millions of dollars on behalf of our clients because we fight to maximize compensation for their injuries.

Looking for tenacious and experienced representation for your baby’s cerebral palsy case? Call (304) 605-2040 now for a free consultation.