Charleston Cerebral Palsy Lawyers
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Cerebral palsy (CP) is a condition that involves a series of disorders which affect both the nervous system and the brain, affecting a wide range of physical and developmental abilities. Cerebral palsy most often occurs as a result of a birth injury, but the symptoms of this condition can also develop later. In many cases of cerebral palsy, a doctor or the nursing staff may have noticed signs in the mother during pregnancy and/or during the delivery, and failed to take the proper measures. This could be considered an incident of medical malpractice, allowing the mother to pursue compensation for the harm caused to her baby due to negligent care.
Causes of Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy is one of the most common results of birth injury, with the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke estimating that delivery complications account for severe CP in between 5 to 10 percent of newborns. While some cases of CP are genetic in nature, many others are completely preventable and are the result of improper medical care.
Some of the many causes of CP include:
- Premature birth: Children born before the 37 weeks have a higher risk of having CP than babies that are delivered full-term. Similarly, children who weigh less than 5 ½ pounds have an increased chance of having CP.
- Infection: If the mother suffers from a serious infection during pregnancy, inflammation-causing proteins called cytokines can begin to circulate in the brain and blood of the baby, leading to brain damage. Fever in the mother during pregnancy and delivery can also cause this problem. Infections can also be acquired after birth from the external environment and cause brain damage. Meningitis and encephalitis are just some of the many infections of the brain which can lead to CP.
- Preeclampsia: High blood pressure during pregnancy, or preeclampsia, can constrict and damage the blood vessels in the placenta and restrict the supply of oxygen-rich blood to the baby. Preeclampsia can cause CP if doctors fail to intervene.
- Jaundice and kernicterus: Jaundice is a condition that occurs when chemical known as bilirubin builds up in a baby’s blood, causing yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes. If left untreated, severe jaundice can lead to a condition known as kernicterus which can cause severe brain damage.
- Head trauma: CP can occur if the baby suffers head trauma during the birthing process, such as through the improper use of forceps or vacuum extractors.
- Post-term pregnancy: If a baby remains in the womb for too long, the placenta will begin to deteriorate and potentially restrict the baby’s supply of oxygen. Additionally, the baby may become too large, making delivery more difficult and increasing the baby’s risk of injury. For this reason, it is often recommended for labor to be induced between 40 and 41 weeks if the baby has not yet been delivered.
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