When the doctor tells you that your baby has cerebral palsy, your first two questions are likely to be what does that mean, and why did it happen?
Cerebral palsy is the joint name for a set of neurological disorders and disabilities. It occurs when there has been damage to a child’s brain, either before, during or immediately after the baby’s birth. It may affect your child’s ability to walk, think, speak, hear, and carry out motor tasks. It can also result in difficulties with learning, behavior and emotional control. Other possible consequences include epilepsy, joint pain and spinal deformation. While not curable, therapy can make a difference.
Your obstetrician or another medical professional could be at fault for your child’s cerebral palsy if they failed to do these things:
- Monitor development issues: Spotting problems early may give a chance to remedy them.
- Spot maternal infections and treat them: Diseases such as herpes, Zika, chickenpox or rubella in the mother could increase the likelihood a baby develops cerebral palsy.
- Perform a cesarean section when needed: This can allow a safe delivery if there are labor problems.
- Ensure the baby has an adequate oxygen supply: If the umbilical cord wraps around the baby’s neck, it can cut off the oxygen.
- Use forceps or vacuums with adequate care: Mishandling these tools can cause brain damage.
It can be challenging to prove that your child’s cerebral palsy is due to medical malpractice. In many cases, medical professionals cannot determine the actual cause. Raising a child with cerebral palsy will incur considerable extra costs, including therapy and extra care. It may also affect your child’s ability to lead an independent life and earn a living when they are older. If you suspect medical negligence, seek legal help to understand your options.