What causes cerebral palsy in young children?

All parents worry about their children at some point or another. However, it can be scary and heartbreaking for parents to consider that a child may be affected by a disorder like cerebral palsy.

Cerebral palsy is caused by damage to the motor cortex of the brain. This damage can affect a child’s motor skills, impacting movement and speech. However, symptoms will vary from child to child because the symptoms correlate with the severity and timing of the brain injury.

If your baby is younger than six months old, he or she may feel either stiff or floppy, and when you pick him or her up, your child’s legs may get stiff and scissor or your child’s head may lag. If your baby is between 6 and 10 months old, he or she may not be able to bring his or her hands together or roll over. Your child may also reach out with only one hand, while keeping the other fisted. Babies older than 10 months may crawl in a lopsided way or may scoot around without actually crawling on all four limbs.

Often the cause is unknown

The brain damage that causes cerebral palsy can happen before birth, during birth or during the first few years of a child’s life. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 85 to 90 percent of instances of cerebral palsy are caused before or during birth. Cerebral palsy that is caused at these times is called congenital cerebral palsy.

In many cases the cause of cerebral palsy is unknown. However, a child may have an increased risk of being affected by congenital cerebral palsy if he or she is born prematurely or has a low birth weight. Other risk factors include birth complications, infections during pregnancy and the mother having certain medical conditions.

Sometimes medical malpractice is to blame

Unfortunately, some instances of cerebral palsy are caused by the care provided or not provided by medical professionals. According to the Cerebral Palsy Group, roughly 10 to 15 percent of cerebral palsy cases are caused by medical malpractice. Some examples of this include medical professionals:

  • Not recognizing fetal distress during the labor or not intervening as they should
  • Not resuscitating a baby fast enough when resuscitation is necessary after birth
  • Providing a pregnant woman with a prescription for medication that is unsafe during pregnancy

If you believe your child may have cerebral palsy because of the actions of a medical professional, you and your child may benefit from seeking justice with a medical malpractice lawsuit. Financial compensation may help ease the burden of raising a child with cerebral palsy, while helping to prevent a similar incident from happening to someone else.

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