In the United States, it is estimated that 1.5 to 2 million people have cerebral palsy, with an annual diagnosis rate of approximately 10,000. Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder that causes a defect in the ability of a persons brain to control their muscle movement. There are three general categories of cerebral palsy: spastic, ataxic, and athetoid/dyskinetic. While there is no one specific cause of cerebral palsy, there is a link between poor prenatal and delivery room care and the subsequent development of cerebral palsy.
Risk factors that increase the likelihood of a child developing cerebral palsy include, but are not limited to:
- Premature birth
- Low birth weight
- Poor intrauterine oxygen delivery
- Prolonged lack of oxygen to the child during the delivery
An infant who is born premature and weighs less than 3.33 pounds is nearly 30 times as likely to develop cerebral palsy. According to a recent report by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and American Academy of Pediatrics, nearly 10% of cerebral palsy cases are related to a lack of oxygen during labor and delivery. During labor and delivery, physicians and nurses are supposed to be constantly monitoring the mother and fetuses oxygen levels. When these medical professionals do not adequately monitor oxygen levels, this can lead to significant development problems, including cerebral palsy.
Prior to delivery, there are many times when a doctors mistake or negligence can cause cerebral palsy. This can happen when a doctor fails to:
- Properly monitor the development of the fetus
- Perform tests to rule out potential developmental complications
- Treat complications that impact fetal development
- Prevent treatable conditions that can cause labor and delivery complications
When a doctor does not provide appropriate treatment to a mother and her infant either before or during labor and delivery, it can result in cerebral palsy. If your child has cerebral palsy and you suspect a doctor or other medical professional may be responsible, please fill out the form at the top of the page to speak with an attorney who can advise you of your child’s legal rights.