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Cerebral Palsy Often Caused by Birth Injury

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Of all the problems caused birth injuries, cerebral palsy is one of the most serious. When cerebral palsy is connected to a birth injury, the condition is usually caused by oxygen deprivation to the brain during labor or childbirth. The symptoms can vary from mild to severe with a lifelong impact on the child and their family. Medical malpractice or improper treatment before, after or during the childbirth process is sometimes the cause of cerebral palsy.

Cerebral palsy basics

Cerebral palsy is a medical term for a list of neurological disorders that impair body movement and muscle coordination. Most children with the condition are born with it although a proper diagnosis may be delayed for a few years.

While cerebral palsy is a lifelong, serious health condition; it is “non-progressive” which means that it won’t get any worse than it is at the outset.

According to data from the Mayo Clinic, cerebral palsy occurs in approximately two to four out of every 1,000 births in the United States and Europe.

Understanding the causes of cerebral palsy

Common causes of cerebral palsy include oxygen deprivation to the brain (hypoxia) or to the body (asphyxia) during labor or birth, premature delivery or some other birth trauma. All of these issues may be the result of medical malpractice or mistakes during labor or childbirth, but not in every case.

Breakdown of common links between medical malpractice and cerebral palsy

Premature birth may be caused by:

  • an undetected or improperly treated infection in the mother during pregnancy, such as meningitis
  • failure to administer drugs that could stop a premature birth
  • failure to identify signs of impending premature labor

Oxygen deprivation may be caused by:

  • failure to properly monitor fetal heart rate before and during labor and birth
  • failure to identify a prolapsed umbilical cord
  • failure to recommend/schedule/perform in a timely manner a medically necessary cesarean section when a baby is too large to safely pass through the birth canal
  • negligence and unreasonable mistakes while using instruments like vacuum and forceps in performing a delivery

Types of cerebral palsy

The three most common types of cerebral palsy are:

Spastic cerebral palsy. Spastic cerebral palsy is the most common type of the condition, affecting about 80 percent of those afflicted with the condition. Spastic cerebral palsy is identified by stiffness and difficulty moving from tightness in one or more muscle groups. This form of the condition makes it difficult to move from one position to another and hold onto or let go of objects.

Athetoid cerebral palsy. Athetoid cerebral palsy affects about 10 percent of cerebral palsy patients. Athetoid cerebral palsy is identified with involuntary movement, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, inability to maintain posture and weak muscle tone.

Ataxic cerebral palsy. Ataxic cerebral palsy accounts for about 10 percent of cerebral palsy cases. It is characterized by depth perception problems, distorted sense of balance, tremors and difficulty with coordinated muscle movements.

Seek help from a qualified medical malpractice attorney

Medical malpractice cases are complicated. They require the expertise of a qualified medical malpractice lawyer who has contacts in the medical industry. The medical professionals will be called in to assess the medical team’s actions or inactions while the attorney will use the information to help build a case for liability. If the case goes to court then the medical experts may be called in to testify that the medical team acted negligently and that their action or inaction was a direct cause of cerebral palsy.

The Seattle personal injury attorneys at Morrow Kidman Tinker Macey-Cushman, PLLC have years of experience representing families harmed by medical malpractice, birth injuries and other personal injuries. We seek justice for patients who have been harmed by preventable medical errors including wrongful death, catastrophic injuries and traumatic brain injuries in Seattle and across Washington State. There are no fees or expenses to file a personal injury case as we only receive payment if we recover damages on your behalf. Do not delay; personal injury claims come with a statute of limitations, which means they must be filed within a certain time frame of the injury.

Call us now at 206-842-3330 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation with one of our compassionate, experienced Seattle injury lawyers. We are ready to fight for you.