Wayne County Cerebral Palsy Lawyers
For many people, bringing home a newborn baby is one of life’s most valuable and rewarding experiences. However, learning your baby has cerebral palsy can add significant stress to this joyous time. If your child’s case of cerebral palsy was preventable, the realization would be devastating.
At the Michigan birth injury law firm of Sommers Schwartz, P.C., we help families with children born with preventable forms of cerebral palsy pursue claims for financial compensation against negligent doctors and other medical professionals. Our dedicated team of Wayne County cerebral palsy attorneys has garnered nationwide respect as an authority on cerebral palsy and other birth injuries.
What Is Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral palsy is the most common childhood motor disability. However, it is not just a childhood problem. This nervous system disorder can drastically affect all stages of a person’s life, causing issues in early childhood and well into adulthood. The condition has multiple causes, and it can develop during pregnancy, at birth, or shortly after birth. Doctors may offer different rationales on why a child develops cerebral palsy, depending on the surrounding circumstance. Determining what led to a specific case of cerebral palsy is not always straightforward, but a healthcare professional’s negligence can cause the disorder.
Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy
The first signs of cerebral palsy typically appear in the first few months of life. However, due to typical developmental differences between infants, the disorder is not usually formally diagnosed until a child reaches age two. Some of the signs of cerebral palsy in young children include abnormal muscle tone or posture and developmental delays.
It can be difficult for parents to assess their child’s development because children develop and learn differently. Well visits with your child’s doctor can help determine whether your baby is developing within the typical spectrum. Suspicions of cerebral palsy often arise if a child consistently misses numerous physical or cognitive milestones. Some commonly observed physical indicators of the disorder may show up at the following ages:
Six Months: By the time a child reaches six months of age, they should hold up their head independently when someone picks them up. A child with cerebral palsy will not be able to do so, and their body may become stiff.
Ten Months: When a child reaches ten months old, they should crawl competently and develop an interest in standing independently. However, if a child cannot crawl or stand up with a parent’s assistance, it may indicate they have cerebral palsy.
One Year: By a child’s first birthday, they should be able to roll over on their own and move each of their limbs independently. However, a child with cerebral palsy may not roll on their own or control each limb independently.
Babies with cerebral palsy will often show cognitive development delays, too, missing many of the following milestones of normal development:
Two Months: Infants begin to recognize faces and identify loved ones.
Four Months: Babies start to enjoy playing with toys, respond to parental affection, and exhibit their own emotions.
Six Months: Babies begin to observe their immediate surroundings more intently and exhibit curiosity for things beyond their reach.
Twelve Months: Children begin to point at objects, mimic loved ones’ faces, and follow simple instructions.
Eighteen Months: Children should recognize most everyday objects and follow more complex directions.
If your child has missed some or all of these typical physical or cognitive milestones, it may be a sign of cerebral palsy; however, that is not always the case. Children develop at different rates, and there is a wide range of “normal” development. If you are concerned about your child’s progress and believe they may have suffered a preventable case of cerebral palsy, reach out to a dedicated Wayne County birth injury lawyer to discuss your options.
Causes of Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy is caused by the abnormal development of the brain or by damage to the developing brain. Brain damage can occur throughout pregnancy, during birth, or after a baby is born. The most common causes of brain damage during labor and delivery involve oxygen deprivation or physical trauma.
Cerebral palsy can be congenital or acquired. Congenital cerebral palsy results from natural failure of the brain to develop normally or damage to the brain during pregnancy or birth. According to the Centers for Disease Control, between 85 and 90 percent of cerebral palsy cases are congenital.
Doctors use “risk factors” to assess the likelihood that a child will develop congenital cerebral palsy. A risk factor is not a cause; it is a circumstance that indicates an increased chance a child will develop cerebral palsy. Risk factors for congenital cerebral palsy include:
● Birth complications.
● Infections during pregnancy.
● Low birthweight.
● Multiple births.
● Premature birth.
● Use of fertility treatment before pregnancy.
A small percentage of cerebral palsy cases result from brain damage occurring more than 28 days after birth. These cases, known as acquired cerebral palsy, are usually caused by an infection such as meningitis or encephalitis.
Because of the nature of cerebral palsy, it can be challenging to determine its cause. However, medical malpractice can contribute to causing cerebral palsy in several different ways. Some examples of how a healthcare provider’s negligence may factor into the development of cerebral palsy include:
Poor Prenatal Care
The quality of prenatal care provided to a mother during pregnancy directly corresponds to the newborn baby’s health. Doctors who diligently monitor a mother and child during pregnancy are more likely to notice any issues early. The earlier doctors detect a potential problem, the greater the possibility of intervening and preventing serious injury.
Lack of Oxygen
Deprivation of oxygen, also called hypoxia, is a leading cause of many different birth injuries. When babies are deprived of oxygen for only a short time, they may be born with a bluish hue but will often recover if they receive appropriate care. However, even moderate periods without oxygen can result in a baby developing cerebral palsy.
Reduced Blood Flow
An unborn baby receives all its nutrition and oxygen through the umbilical cord, which connects to the mother’s body through the placenta. The continued blood flow along this path is crucial for delivering a healthy child. If there are complications involving the umbilical cord, the blood flow to the baby can be reduced to dangerous levels during the labor and delivery process. As a result, the child may suffer irreversible damage or may not survive the birth.
Physical Injuries During Delivery
Difficult deliveries frequently require specialized instruments to assist the natural labor process. However, the unskilled use of these instruments combined with labor trauma can increase the risk that a baby will develop cerebral palsy or sustain another type of birth injury.
Do You Suspect Your Child Has Cerebral Palsy as a Result of Medical Negligence?
If you believe a doctor’s negligence resulted in your child developing cerebral palsy, contact the Wayne County birth injury law firm of Sommers Schwartz, P.C. Since our firm was founded in the 1970s, we have been pioneers in the field of medical negligence. Our experienced lawyers have authored textbooks on handling birth injury cases and are often asked to speak at important birth trauma conferences, including the Boston University Medical School Annual Perinatal Conference and the American Conference Institute’s Annual Advanced Forum on Obstetric Malpractice Claims.
We fight for your family’s rights and hold medical providers responsible for negligence and medical errors. To learn more and schedule a free consultation with a Wayne County cerebral palsy lawyer, call 1-800-783-0989 today. Because we accept birth injury cases on a contingency basis, we will not bill you for our legal representation unless we can help you recover the compensation you—and your child—deserve.