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Do Babies with Cerebral Palsy Smile?


A newborn infant will not always show signs of cerebral palsy. Because it is a neurological disorder that affects the muscular system, many of the noticeable symptoms are not apparent until a child develops more control over their body.

Some of the first signs that a problem exists include a rigid or floppy body. Over the next couple of months, you might notice that your child is missing developmental milestones, such as holding their head up or smiling.

While these delays could be a product of normal development, they could also indicate that your child suffered a birth injury.

If your child is not smiling at two or three months, they could have experienced a traumatic brain injury during delivery.

You should speak with your pediatrician can call the experienced Baltimore medical malpractice attorneys at Rice, Murtha & Psoras. Call our office at (410) 694-7291 to determine if you have a case.

Diagnosing Cerebral Palsy After Birth

A lack of oxygen often causes cerebral palsy. When a doctor suspects that a child was deprived of oxygen during the delivery process, they will likely order a battery of tests and scans to determine if the child suffered brain damage.

Testing typically includes lab work, brain scans, and reviewing the mother’s medical history and pregnancy. These various tools will help doctors diagnose the newborn’s condition.

If these tests are not performed soon after birth, symptoms of cerebral palsy could develop as the child grows. Some warning signs that parents often notice include excessive drooling, rigidity, uneven muscle tone, and crossed eyes.

Another sign of cerebral palsy is developmental delays. For example, a child with cerebral palsy will struggle to reach specific milestones such as sitting, crawling, walking, and smiling.

While these delays could be within the acceptable range for your child’s development, you should have your child examined by your pediatrician if you notice more than one of these signs.

Many children are not diagnosed with cerebral palsy until after the age of two.

It is important to remember that there are aspects of cerebral palsy that will not be able to be measured until your child is older.

A delay in smiling cannot be used to determine the severity of your child’s condition. For example, it will be impossible to gauge certain learning disabilities until your child is old enough to talk and participate in more elaborate cognitive tests.

Medical Malpractice and Cerebral Palsy

A genetic condition could cause cerebral palsy. However, in many cases, it is the result of medical malpractice.

Negligent conduct on the part of your obstetrician or other medical personnel could range from failing to address issues during pregnancy to mishandling a difficult delivery. Some conduct that could constitute medical malpractice is explained below.

Failure to Diagnose

A newborn’s health is reliant on their mother’s medical condition during her pregnancy.

If a woman is experiencing medical problems or an illness, it could adversely impact their child’s well-being and cause the unborn child to develop cerebral palsy.

When doctors fail to diagnose or treat a mother’s illness, they could be held liable for the newborn’s condition.

Birth Trauma

Birth injuries are often the result of a difficult delivery. Under the best of circumstances, birth is a traumatic experience for a baby.

When an infant suffers birth injuries, especially around the head or neck, brain damage could occur, resulting in the development of cerebral palsy.

When confronted with a difficult birth, an obstetrician might employ forceps or a vacuum extractor to assist the delivery.

A baby could suffer permanent brain damage when these medical instruments are used negligently, perhaps applying excess force.

Some deliveries present other challenges. For example, if a breech birth is mishandled, a baby could be deprived of oxygen for a significant period.

An infant could suffer brain damage if the brain’s flow of blood or oxygen is interrupted. When confronted with a distressed birth, an obstetrician will often have to take immediate and proactive steps to ensure the safety of the child and the mother.

A failure to act could cause as much damage as making the wrong decision.

Failure to Provide Medical Treatment

There are certain conditions prevalent at birth that, if left untreated, could result in brain damage. For instance, many infants are born with jaundice or an elevated level of bilirubin in the blood.

Babies with this condition will have yellowish eyes and skin. If a doctor fails to monitor and treat this condition when necessary, it could develop into a much more serious condition known as kernicterus – which could cause brain damage. Meningitis is another illness that could lead to cerebral palsy if not addressed.

Liability for Medical Malpractice and Cerebral Palsy

Medical Malpractice claims are typically challenging. This is especially the case when alleging that a doctor or hospital’s negligence caused a condition such as cerebral palsy.

In many cases, the disorder’s origins are unclear or develop well after a child’s birth. Our Maryland medical malpractice lawyers will have to link your child’s condition to the doctor’s conduct.

One form of evidence the experienced attorneys at Rice, Murtha & Psoras will turn to is medical experts who will provide qualified testimony that your doctor’s conduct deviated from the acceptable standard of appropriate medical care under the circumstances.

In other cases, our office will attempt to demonstrate that the hospital failed to follow proper procedures or that its lack of trained technicians or equipment injured your child. Every medical malpractice case is unique, necessitating very particular legal strategies.

Call Our Experienced Medical Malpractice Attorneys if Your Child Developed Cerebral Palsy

Preventable mistakes often cause cerebral palsy. If your child suffered a traumatic brain injury before, during, or soon after birth, the doctor, nurse, or another medical professional should be held accountable.

Allow our dedicated medical malpractice attorneys the opportunity to fight for the compensation you need to provide the care your child needs to smile. Contact Rice, Murtha & Psoras at (410) 694-7291 to review your legal options.