What Parents Should Know About Cerebral Palsy in Infants

Cerebral palsy in infants is a medical condition that affects motor function. The disease often occurs while the child is still in the mother’s womb, but it can appear at any time in the first years of life. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) note that cerebral palsy is the most common motor disability that surfaces in childhood.

If parents who suspect the birth injury is caused by medical negligence, Cleveland, Ohio medical malpractice attorneys can review the circumstances of labor, delivery, or pre- and post-natal care to evaluate whether a claim may be warranted.

Causes of Cerebral Palsy in Infants 

For the most part, cerebral palsy is caused by injury to the brain or problems with brain development. 

Among the possible causes of cerebral palsy are: 

  • lack of oxygen in the brain;
  • head injury;
  • brain infections;
  • maternal infections;
  • premature birth;
  • jaundice; and
  • medical malpractice (such as through an injury to the baby during labor and delivery).

Parents can discuss the possible causes of cerebral palsy with a doctor, and may review the cause or contributing factors with their Cleveland, Ohio medical malpractice attorneys if they believe it was caused by a birth injury caused by malpractice. 

Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy in Infants 

The symptoms of cerebral palsy can range from mild to severe. There are several types of cerebral palsy and each one affects children differently.

Possible symptoms include: 

  • muscle tightness;
  • floppy muscles;
  • abnormal movements/gait;
  • learning disabilities;
  • speech or hearing problems;
  • seizures;
  • pain;
  • breathing and swallowing problems;
  • delayed growth;
  • constipation;
  • incontinence; and
  • drooling. 

Diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy in Infants 

Parents who notice any of these signs in their children should contact their child’s pediatrician. The doctor will test the child’s neurological functioning through a battery of tests and assess the child’s gait, muscle tone, reflexes and posture. Tests may include an electroencephalogram (EEG), which measures impulses in the brain, CT scan, MRI scan, hearing and vision tests and blood tests. 

There is not one single test that diagnoses cerebral palsy or rules out the condition. It can take months or even years for doctors to come up with a solid diagnosis in some cases, especially when symptoms are fairly mild.

Upon diagnosis of cerebral palsy and if parents suspect cerebral palsy in an infant was caused by a birth injury, they may consult Cleveland, Ohio medical malpractice attorneys who may utilize expert testimony to evaluate and establish whether a doctor’s negligent actions contributed to a birth injury. 

Treatment for Cerebral Palsy in Infants 

Although there is currently no cure for cerebral palsy, it may be managed. Even in its mildest forms, cerebral palsy is often a lifelong condition. The child will often need to see a team of doctors, which might include a pediatrician, social worker, speech therapist, behavioral specialist, neurologist, orthopedic surgeon and/or ophthalmologist, among others.

There are a variety of therapies and treatments available for children with cerebral palsy birth injuries. Therapy may be needed to assist with speech, movement and behavioral problems. Surgery may be needed to correct vision and hearing problems as well as increase mobility in arms and legs.

Medications are often prescribed to control seizures and abnormal movements and relax muscles. There are also assistive devices available, such as braces, wheelchairs and walkers, to help children with severe mobility issues. Each case of cerebral palsy is unique. Not all children are affected similarly.

However, medical providers aim for the same goals: 

  • improve mobility and communication skills;
  • control pain;
  • prevent complications;
  • increase independence; and
  • allow for a variety of social experiences.

Treatment may be very costly; Cleveland, Ohio medical malpractice attorneys can review options for recovering damages related to these costs.

Help from Cleveland, Ohio Medical Malpractice Attorneys

Cleveland, Ohio medical malpractice attorneys can assist parents who have legal questions about a possible case of medical malpractice that led to birth injury. An attorney may draw upon the expertise of a medical expert in the field, and can help evaluate and collect other types of evidence as the claim is pursued for a case of negligence that led to cerebral palsy in an infant.