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The connection between cerebral palsy and medical malpractice

Cerebral palsy (CP) is considered the most common motor disability in children, with about one in 323 children identified with CP. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates around 10,000 infants are born with CP each year.

While it is difficult to pinpoint a cause for CP, most cases claim medical negligence and careless mistakes increase the risk of CP in infants. Recently, St. Francis Hospital in Ohio settled with a Columbus family after their daughter received brain damage during birth and later, was diagnosed with CP.

What causes cerebral palsy?

Congenital CP is related to brain damage that happens before or during birth, and about 85 percent of CP cases are congenital. Although the exact cause is unknown, the risk of CP, including:

  1. Low birthweight
  2. Premature birth
  3. Multiple births – for example, having twins or triplets
  4. Assisted reproductive technology infertility treatments
  5. Infections during pregnancy
  6. Medical conditions of the mother
  7. Birth complications – for example, detachment of the placenta and problems with the umbilical cord

The presence of any risk does not lead to the illness. Oftentimes, researchers connect to head trauma during the delivery process with the presence of CP after birth.

How can a baby suffer from head trauma?

Head injuries may occur before birth, but in some cases, head trauma happens during delivery. Head trauma during birth is usually attributed to the baby’s position and size. Doctors might use excessive pressure to move the baby’s head and neck. If they resort to using a medical device, such as a vacuum, it may also cause extreme pressure on the infant’s head.

Infections and difficulty breathing can also lead to head injuries for babies. For example, if the umbilical cord wraps around the baby’s neck, the cord cuts off the oxygen to the brain. But a lack of oxygen during birth does not always cause CP.

Is it medical malpractice?

If a child is diagnosed with CP, it does not guarantee compensation for a parent. Medical malpractice relies on healthcare providers failing to provide proper care by ignoring standard procedure. Examples of malpractice are:

  • A delay in delivering an infant, causing oxygen deprivation
  • Failure to diagnose infections or other medical issues
  • Failure to correctly use forceps or vacuum extraction during delivery
  • Failure to identify umbilical cord problems
  • Failure to adequately monitor fetal and maternal distress

Depending on the circumstances of the childbirth injuries, parents may receive compensation. The compensation helps cover medical costs, therapy programs and any needs the child has. However, it’s best to consult with a physician before moving forward.

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