Medical errors can be the cause of cerebral palsy

Although childbirth is a common occurrence for mothers in Nevada every day, most put their trust in physicians and other healthcare providers to ensure that this delicate process goes smoothly. Although many deliveries occur without any problems, sometimes errors made by the healthcare provider before or during the delivery may put the mother or baby at risk. Unfortunately, sometimes these errors can cause birth injuries, which can lead to many disorders, including cerebral palsy.

About cerebral palsy

The term "cerebral palsy" actually encompasses many different neurological disorders that appear in infancy or early childhood, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Specifically, the disorder most commonly affects muscle coordination. However, movement and tone of the muscles as well as posture may also be affected.

Cerebral palsy can be classified into four types: spastic, ataxic, dyskinesia and mixed. Each type of the disorder is based on the type of movement problems experienced by the child. If the muscles are stiff or the reflexes exaggerated, the child may have the spastic form of cerebral palsy. Children with ataxic cerebral palsy, which is the most common type, usually suffer from poor balance and coordination. Dyskinesia usually presents as uncontrollable movements. Those with the mixed form of the disorder exhibit symptoms from two or more of the other types of this condition.

Symptoms of the disorder

The symptoms of cerebral palsy may vary based on several different factors such as the type and severity of the condition. However some of the most common symptoms include:

• Muscle tone feels stiff or floppy

• Difficulty swallowing or drooling

• Skeletal abnormalities (or curving of the spine)

• Difficulty eating or speaking

• Seizures

• Vision or hearing problems

Although children develop at different rates, problems reaching a motor or movement milestone (e.g. standing, sitting, walking or rolling over) by a certain age may indicate cerebral palsy, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Causes of cerebral palsy

According to the CDC, cerebral palsy is caused by either abnormal development of the brain or damage to the developing brain. Although this can be caused by brain infections such as meningitis or encephalitis during infancy, it can also be caused by medical errors. Specifically, cerebral palsy has been linked to the following types of errors:

• Failing to monitor fetal heart rate during delivery

• Mistakes during the use of forceps, vacuums and other medical tools during delivery

• A delay or failure to recognize signs of fetal distress or perform a caesarean section when appropriate

Failure to diagnose or treat a prolapsed umbilical cord and other conditions that cause a deprivation of oxygen for the fetus

Although children may improve with medical treatment and physical or occupational therapy, there is no cure for cerebral palsy. Unfortunately, this means that the child will require a lifetime of medical treatment and rehabilitation. Persons that suspect that their child's cerebral palsy developed as a result of a mistake made before or during birth are well advised to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney. An attorney can investigate the facts surrounding the birth, determine whether negligence played a role and outline the options for obtaining compensation under the law.