Medical Malpractice: Cerebral Palsy

What are my legal rights if my child is diagnosed with cerebral palsy?

Around 8,000 children in the United States are diagnosed with cerebral palsy each year, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Cerebral palsy is considered the most common motor related disability in children.  While cerebral palsy can have several possible causes, birth injuries are a leading cause of this potentially serious condition.  Birth injuries are often the result of medical malpractice on the part of the expectant mother’s doctor or other healthcare professional.

What is Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy is a medical term used to describe the loss or impairment of motor functions due to brain damage.  Cerebral palsy impacts body movement, muscle control and coordination, muscle tone, balance, posture, and reflexes.  It can also affect gross and fine motor skills along with oral motor functioning.

Recognizing Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy may not be readily apparent when a child is born. One of the first symptoms of cerebral palsy that a parent might detect is the failure of a child to meet developmental milestones.  Infants with cerebral palsy will often be delayed in holding their head up, sitting up, rolling over, sucking, eating, and the like.  Any parent with concerns about their child’s development should contact their child’s pediatrician right away.

As a child with cerebral palsy continues to grow, other symptoms of the impairment may include rigidity in one or more limbs, shaky limbs, trouble swallowing or speaking, lack of motor control, and more.  Each child with cerebral palsy is unique and symptoms can vary widely.

Medical Malpractice and Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy can be caused by a number of medical mistakes made during the pregnancy or delivery of the infant.  Medical malpractice lawsuits brought by the parents of children with cerebral palsy may be based on the following:

  • Failure to recognize and treat any infections during the pregnancy;
  • Delays in performing a necessary cesarean section;
  • Failure to use a fetal heart rate monitor during labor;
  • Negligence in the use of medical tools such as forceps and a vacuum during delivery; and
  • Excessive force used by the physician while delivering the baby.

Any parent of a child diagnosed with cerebral palsy should consult with a medical malpractice attorney who can evaluate your potential case and provide you with an individualized overview of your legal rights.

About the Author
Of all the different areas in medical malpractice, it is podiatry malpractice that has had a particular interest to me. With 42 years practicing law and representing hundreds of victims of malpractice, I have created a law practice in which my clients are comfortable knowing that their case is being handled with my personal attention, in the most professional manner, and without unreasonable delays.