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Causes & Risk Factors of Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy (CP) is caused by abnormal development of the brain or damage to the developing brain that affects a child’s ability to controls his or her muscles.  Several factors can cause abnormal development or damage, so the exact cause is unknown.  CP was believed to only be caused by lack of oxygen during deliver, with more research and studies conducted, scientists now believe that this causes only a small number of CP cases.  Studies have shown that the brain damage that leads to CP can happen before birth, during birth, within a month after birth, or during the first years of a child’s life, while the brain is still developing.

Our experienced  birth injury attorneys handle cases involving cerebral palsy.  This condition affects a child and family throughout his or her lifetime.  Often this injury could have been prevented with proper medical care and treatment.  When a doctor, hospital, or nurse makes a mistake that causes cerebral palsy, the parents or guardians of the child can file a medical malpractice lawsuit.

What is Congenital Cerebral Palsy?

According to the CDC, CP related to brain damage that happened before or during birth is called congenital CP. The majority of CP (85%–90%) is congenital. In many cases, the specific cause is not known.

Causes & Risk Factors Cerebral Palsy

The cause of congenital cerebral palsy cannot always be determined, but there are some of the common risk factors that are associated with the condition.   These common risk factors are listed below.  However, just because a child may have one or more of these risk factors does not mean that the child will have cerebral palsy.  Many times, it is a medical error or mistake that causes cerebral palsy.

  • Low birth weight: Children who weigh less than 5½ pounds (2,500 grams) at birth, and especially those who weigh less than 3 pounds, 5 ounces (1,500 grams) have a greater chance of having CP.

  • Premature birthChildren who were born before the 37th week of pregnancy, especially if they were born before the 32nd week of pregnancy, have a greater chance of having CP. Intensive care for premature infants has improved a lot over the past several decades. Babies born very early are more likely to live now, but many have medical problems that can put them at risk for CP.

  • Multiple births: Twins, triplets, and other multiple births have a higher risk for CP, especially if a baby’s twin or triplet dies before birth or shortly after birth. Some, but not all of this increased risk is due to the fact that children born from multiple pregnancies often are born early or with low birth weight, or both.

  • Assisted reproductive technology (ART) infertility treatments: Children born from pregnancies resulting from the use of some infertility treatments have a greater chance of having CP. Most of the increased risk is explained by preterm delivery or multiple births, or both; both preterm delivery and multiple births are increased among children conceived with ART infertility treatments.

  • Infections during pregnancy: Infections can lead to increases in certain proteins called cytokines that circulate in the brain and blood of the baby during pregnancy. Cytokines cause inflammation, which can lead to brain damage in the baby. Fever in the mother during pregnancy or delivery also can cause this problem. Some types of infection that have been linked with CP include viruses such as chickenpox, rubella (german measles), and cytomegalovirus (CMV), and bacterial infections such as infections of the placenta or fetal membranes, or maternal pelvic infections.

  • Jaundice and kernicterus: Jaundice is the yellow color seen in the skin of many newborns. Jaundice happens when a chemical called bilirubin builds up in the baby’s blood. When too much bilirubin builds up in a new baby’s body, the skin and whites of the eyes might look yellow. This yellow coloring is called jaundice. When severe jaundice goes untreated for too long, it can cause a condition called kernicterus. This can cause CP and other conditions. Sometimes, kernicterus results from ABO or Rh blood type difference between the mother and baby. This causes the red blood cells in the baby to break down too fast, resulting in severe jaundice.

  • Medical conditions of the mother: Mothers with thyroid problems, intellectual disability, or seizures have a slightly higher risk of having a child with CP.

  • Birth complications: Detachment of the placenta, uterine rupture, or problems with the umbilical cord during birth can disrupt oxygen supply to the baby and result in CP.

Contact a Michigan Cerebral Palsy Malpractice Lawyer

When a baby suffers cerebral palsy due to medical mistakes and negligence, it can give rise to a medical malpractice lawsuit.  Cerebral palsy is a serious medical condition that can affect the social, academic and vocational pursuits of your infant. The treatment for cerebral palsy can result in significant expense over the period of a lifetime. Such type of damage requests are included in a medical malpractice lawsuit filed for the case of anoxic brain injury.

It is essential to contact our office as soon as possible so that we can obtain your child’s complete medical chart to determine whether there was negligence involved in the treatment.  There are strict time delays for filing medical malpractice lawsuits in Michigan so it is essential to contact an experienced lawyer as soon as possible to see if your child has valid case.

Call now at (800) 606-1717 to speak with one of our experienced cerebral palsy attorneys.  We will represent you under our No Fee Promise; this means you owe us nothing unless we obtain a settlement for you!

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