What Causes Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral palsy has no single cause; it occurs for a variety of reasons. This serious medical condition can be the result of certain types of infection suffered by the mother during gestation, premature birth, or severe jaundice after birth. Under certain circumstances, however, it is caused by the negligence of an obstetrician or nurse during labor and delivery.
One of the most common conditions that can cause this type of birth injury is referred to as “hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy,” oxygen deprivation that can lead to permanent brain damage. If the umbilical cord comes down the birth canal ahead of the child — a condition referred to as a “prolapsed umbilical cord” — the cord is liable to become compressed during contractions. This can cut off the oxygen supply to the baby’s brain, an emergency that requires immediate action on the part of the attending obstetrician. Doctors and nurses can often be held legally accountable for failing to notice the signs of fetal distress on the heart monitoring equipment and for not taking appropriate action to safeguard the health of the baby.
Other types of medical negligence during the birth process have been linked with cerebral palsy. The misuse of forceps or vacuum extraction can cause bleeding and tissue damage in the brain, as these techniques will sometimes apply excessive force to the child’s skull. Interventions such as the use of Pitocin to induce or speed labor also pose a risk of causing brain damage. Pitocin, a synthetic form of the hormone oxytocin, is used to increase the frequency and severity of contractions, but as this interferes with the natural progression of childbirth it often leads to fetal distress as the baby is subjected to intensified force in the birth canal and possible compression of the umbilical cord.
Recovering Compensation For Cerebral Palsy Birth Injuries
According to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average lifetime costs of medical treatment for an individual with cerebral palsy will range close to $1 million, while the annual cost of care for a child with CP will typically be approximately 10 times as much as for a child without the condition. In addition to the staggering expenses of treating CP, the condition may result in a physical disability that makes it impossible for the individual to earn a large enough income to be fully self-sufficient. If your child was born with cerebral palsy, it is important to raise the question of whether the doctor may be at fault. Contact us at The Law Office of Richard M. Kenny to speak with an attorney from our firm about the possibility of filing a malpractice lawsuit in pursuit of financial compensation for your child’s birth injury.