Cerebral palsy is a congenital disorder (a medical condition that is present at or before birth) that affects muscle tone, posture, and movement.

However, while cerebral palsy affects the body, it’s actually a result of brain damage, causing the brain to be unable to control the body’s muscles correctly. “Cerebral” in this instance means brain, while “palsy” means paralysis or involuntary shaking or trembling.

Over 10,000 babies are born with cerebral palsy each year, leaving far too many parents left wondering, “What causes cerebral palsy?,” “Is there a way to prevent cerebral palsy?,” and “If I have more children, will they have cerebral palsy, too?”

What Are the Causes and Risk Factors for Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy is not a genetic or inheritable condition. It is caused by abnormal brain development in the womb or damage to the brain during pregnancy, delivery, or shortly after birth. However, there are some genetic factors that don’t cause cerebral palsy themselves, but whose side effects may increase the risk of an infant developing cerebral palsy.

For example, some people are genetically predisposed to premature births. Babies that are born too early are more likely to suffer brain damage that could develop into cerebral palsy. If the mother is genetically predisposed to preeclampsia or breech births, these birth complications could also potentially result in brain damage to the child that could make cerebral palsy more likely.

However, babies can also suffer brain damage in ways that have nothing to do with the mother. For example, infants who suffer head injuries, such as in a car accident, or serious infections that reach the brain could also be at risk of developing cerebral palsy, even if they didn’t have any symptoms before or after birth.

In some cases, cerebral palsy can be the fault of negligent healthcare providers. For example, an obstetrician, nurse, midwife, or other healthcare provider could directly cause head injury to the infant during delivery by being overly forceful with forceps or a vacuum extractor. They could also fail to diagnose a serious condition, such as an infection during pregnancy or a complication during delivery, that could have been treated or mitigated if it had been caught sooner.

When this happens, the negligent healthcare provider can be held legally liable for your family’s financial damages and emotional suffering.

How Do I Know if My Child Has Cerebral Palsy?

Babies who suffer from cerebral palsy are often slow to reach key milestones, such as lifting their head, rolling over, sitting up, crawling, walking, and talking. They will also likely have problems with anything that involves fine motor control, such as clapping or holding objects.

You might also notice that your baby’s limbs feel either especially stiff or very floppy, and they may have muscle spasms. These could be symptoms of cerebral palsy.

How Does Cerebral Palsy Affect Children?

Children with cerebral palsy suffer from weakness in the limbs, poor muscle tone, and difficulty with balance and coordination. This means they usually have extreme difficulty functioning independently and performing everyday tasks, including walking, dressing themselves, feeding themselves, and potentially even speaking.

They will likely require lifelong care and treatment, including physical therapy and adaptive devices such as wheelchairs, which are often more than a family can afford without help.

That’s why, if you suspect your child’s cerebral palsy may be the fault of someone else’s negligence, you need to consider filing a birth injury claim to get the compensation your family and your child will need to live a happy and healthy life in spite of their diagnosis.

A birth injury lawsuit can help cover the cost of all past and future medical treatment related to your child’s cerebral palsy, compensation for future income if they are unable to work, and any pain and suffering resulting from their condition.

We Help Families Affected by Birth Injuries

Welcoming a new child is supposed to be a joyous moment, but when that child is the victim of a birth injury, it can turn your life upside down. And when birth injuries are the result of a healthcare provider’s negligence, they deserve to be held accountable for the harm they’ve caused.

At Joye Law Firm, we stand up for families affected by cerebral palsy and other birth injuries. Contact our team of experienced South Carolina birth injury attorneys today for a free case evaluation.

About the Author

Mark Joye is the Head of the Litigation Department at the Joye Law Firm. A Board-Certified Trial Advocate with nearly 30 years of litigation experience, he currently serves on the Board of Governors for the American Association for Justice and is a past president of the South Carolina Association for Justice. In a recent trial, Joye headed a trial team that secured $17 million for a family killed in a tractor-trailer accident.

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