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What causes cerebral palsy in babies?

For most parents, worrying about their children is inevitable. However, it can an especially stressful time for a parent who worries that his or her baby could have a movement disorder, such as cerebral palsy.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cerebral palsy is the most common motor disability for children. It can be caused before, during or after birth if the part of a baby’s brain that affects control of muscles develops abnormally or if that part of the baby’s developing brain is damaged. When this part of the brain develops abnormally or is damaged, it can impact a child’s ability to move and balance.

Symptoms of cerebral palsy can vary depending on the type and severity of the disorder that affects the child. Babies younger than 6 months who are affected by cerebral palsy could feel stiff or floppy. The baby’s head may lag or legs may scissor when he or she is picked up. Babies older than 6 months who are affected by cerebral palsy might not roll over in either direction, might not be able to put their hands together or might struggle to bring their hands to their mouths.

Several factors can increase the risk of cerebral palsy

The exact cause for the abnormal development or damage is often unknown, although there are some identified risk factors. Most of the time cerebral palsy is congenital, which means that it is related to brain damage that occurred before or during birth. Babies born prematurely or with a low birth weight may have an increased risk of being affected by congenital cerebral palsy. Birth complications, infections during pregnancy and the mother having certain medical conditions can also be risk factors.

Sometimes medical malpractice is to blame

Although there are many instances when the cause for cerebral palsy is unknown, there are some instances when cerebral palsy has been caused by the actions or inactions of medical professionals. Medical malpractice can be the cause of a baby’s cerebral palsy, if medical professionals:

  • Provided an expectant mother with a prescription for medication that is not safe during pregnancy
  • Failed to recognize fetal distress during the labor
  • Failed to intervene appropriately to fetal distress during labor
  • Failed to resuscitate a baby fast enough after birth, if resuscitation was needed

Raising a child who has cerebral palsy can involve many challenges, including financial challenges. If your child is affected by cerebral palsy that was caused by medical malpractice, it may be appropriate to seek justice. You may be able to receive financial compensation for your child’s medical expenses and other costs associated with the disorder. A lawsuit can also help prevent a similar situation from happening to another baby.

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