Does your baby have cerebral palsy?

When you first became pregnant, you were probably overwhelmed with visions of your child's future and the happy moment you would be handed your baby. Unfortunately, complications can occur during birth due to medical malpractice, and they can leave families with devastating impacts.

Even if your baby didn't appear to be injured during birth, issues can arise later on. One of the most common is cerebral palsy - a lifelong disorder of movement, muscle tone or posture. Cerebral palsy is caused by damage that occurs to the immature, developing brain.

Symptoms to watch for

Signs and symptoms first appear during infancy but can also present themselves for the first time during the preschool years. The effects of cerebral palsy on functional abilities can vary: some affected people can or can't walk, and some do or don't show normal intellectual capacity.

Your child may have cerebral palsy if they are exhibiting any of the following symptoms:

  • Variations in muscle tone, such as excessive stiffness or floppiness
  • Stiff muscles and exaggerated reflexes, or even normal reflexes
  • Lack of muscle coordination
  • Involuntary movements
  • Delays in reaching motor skills milestones: pushing up on arms, sitting up alone, crawling, etc.
  • Favoring one side of the body
  • Difficulty walking, such as walking on toes or an asymmetrical gait
  • Difficulty sucking or eating
  • Excessive drooling or problems with swallowing
  • Delays in speech development

How birth causes cerebral damage

Babies who are born premature have an elevated risk of cerebral palsy. Research found that there is an increased risk even if the baby was born only a little early: A baby born at 38 weeks is twice as likely to develop cerebral palsy as a 40-week, full-term baby.

Premature babies are of course at an even greater risk. A baby born at 33 weeks is 14 times more likely than a full-term baby to develop the disorder.

If you were forced to deliver your baby early for reasons that affected you, your baby or you both, it is worth considering whether the conditions of your baby's birth were due to medical malpractice on the part of a doctor. The inability to provide you or your baby quality care could have led to an early delivery, which could have caused your baby's cerebral palsy.

Paying for your child's care throughout their life with cerebral palsy can be expensive, and if a doctor's negligence is the reason you deserve the opportunity to seek damages to pay for your child's ongoing treatment. Your baby can still go on to lead a happy, quality life, but you shouldn't be left to foot the bill to make that happen if the development of cerebral palsy was someone else's fault.

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