Causes of Cerebral Palsy: Risk Factors and Symptoms

Feb 10, 2018 — by Gary Zucker
Tags: Cerebral Palsy Birth Injury Medical Malpractice

A tiny newborn's footCerebral palsy, or CP, refers to a group of disorders that affect a person’s muscle tone, balance, and mobility. CP can lead to muscle weakness, difficultly walking, and even issues with speech. These developmental issues as a child can result in many difficulties much later in life.

The lawyers at Gary A. Zucker & Associates, P.C. have helped many clients in Brooklyn, NY with medical malpractice lawsuits over their child’s cerebral palsy. Negligence on the part of an Ob-Gyn or the team in the delivery room can cause this condition. Let’s consider the symptoms to look out for and then address risk factors for CP.

Signs and Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy

While not always visible, some common signs and symptoms of cerebral palsy include:

  • Spasticity (stiff muscles with exaggerated reflexes)
  • Rigidity (stiff muscles with normal reflexes)
  • Ataxia (poor muscle coordination)
  • Involuntary muscle movements
  • Delays in the development of motor skills
  • Noticeably favoring one side of the body
  • Difficulty walking and moving
  • Excessive drooling
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Delays in speech development
  • Seizures

Problems with a Baby’s Brain Development During Pregnancy

The majority of cerebral palsy cases (approximately 85 to 90 percent) occur while a child is developing in the womb. This is known as congenital cerebral palsy. We’ll note various risk factors for congenital cerebral palsy below.

Risk Factor: Low Birth Weight

In general, children who weigh less than 5.5 pounds at birth are more likely to develop cerebral palsy. This is especially true for babies who weigh less than 3 pounds, 5 ounces.

Risk Factor: Premature Childbirth

Being born before the 37th week of pregnancy puts a child at risk for many health issues, cereal palsy among them. The risk increases if a child is born before the 32nd week.

Risk Factor: Multiple Births

With twins and triplets, birth weight issues are more likely, which is why there’s a potential risk of cerebral palsy with multiple births.

Risk Factor: Infections During Pregnancy

When a mother suffers from any sort of medical problem during pregnancy, the issue can impact the health of their child. Bacterial and viral infections can both increase the risk of cerebral palsy in a baby, and these issues must be dealt with promptly and carefully.

Risk Factor: Jaundice

When excessive bilirubin accumulates in the blood, it can turn the skin yellow. The condition can affect an unborn child, and increase that baby’s risk for cerebral palsy and other health issues.

Brain Damage Sustained During Childbirth

While the majority of cerebral palsy cases develop while a child is in the womb, CP may be caused by injuries sustained during or after childbirth. These kinds injuries can take many different forms, some of which we’ll note below.

Risk Factor: Breech Position

Breech position occurs when a baby is born feet first instead of head first. The deprivation of oxygen can lead to cerebral palsy if the delivery room team does not address the problem quickly.

Risk Factor: Generally Complicated Birth and Delivery

Other kinds of difficult deliveries can result in oxygen deprivation to the brain as well as injuries to the brain. All of these issues can result in cerebral palsy.

Learn More About Your Legal Options

For more information about your legal rights following an injury to your child during childbirth, be sure to contact our skilled medical malpractice lawyers. The attorneys at Gary A. Zucker & Associates, P.C. are here to help you and your family in your time of legal need.

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