Cerebral palsy is a neurological condition that primarily impairs physical abilities and muscle control, affecting function and mobility. it is caused by brain damage before, during, or immediately following birth. Because the brain injury occurs around the time an infant is born, many people wonder if cerebral palsy could be diagnosed at birth. Unfortunately, there is no easy answer.
In some cases, a newborn could exhibit symptoms of cerebral palsy at birth. Tests and brain scans are also ordered if the child experiences a birth injury or a traumatic delivery. However, many of the symptoms associated with cerebral palsy will not be evident until a child develops.
Many parents will notice that their child is not reaching specific developmental milestones. For example, an infant might not hold their head up, sit, or crawl. Some newborns might appear rigid or floppy. As a child continues to grow, developmental delays become more evident. While the cause of cerebral is unknown in some cases, in many, it is the direct result of a preventable mistake – or medical malpractice. If you believe your child’s condition was caused by the negligence of your doctor or another medical professional, contact the Baltimore medical malpractice attorneys at Rice, Murtha & Psoras. Call our law offices at (410) 694-7291 to discuss your child’s condition and your options.
Diagnosing Cerebral Palsy at Birth
There is no simple test or brain scan that will indicate whether a newborn has cerebral palsy. In fact, no one test will confirm that your child has developed the condition. When attempting to diagnose the condition in an infant, several factors should be considered.
Cerebral palsy does not affect all individuals the same way. Many symptoms will only become evident as the child grows. Nonetheless, cerebral palsy could be diagnosed at the time of birth or shortly afterward if the child’s condition is severe. In some cases, mild symptoms will not be noticeable until the infant reaches 12 to 18 months old. the majority of cerebral palsy cases will usually be diagnosed before the child reaches the age of two.
Confirming Cerebral Palsy in an Infant
To accurately diagnose cerebral palsy takes time. Confirmation that your child has cerebral palsy could involve many steps.
The first is monitoring specific developmental milestones and your child’s physical growth. If doctors suspect the condition exists, they will evaluate the child’s reflexes, coordination, and test their ability to listen to and focus on their caregivers.
Your child’s muscle tone and motor skills could also indicate that they have cerebral palsy. To further confirm a diagnosis, your primary physician would likely refer your child to specialists and order a battery of tests, including ultrasounds, MRIs, and CT scans.
Cerebral Palsy and Medical Malpractice
Cerebral palsy is a disorder caused by damage to the areas of the brain that control muscle and motor functions. In many situations, the actual cause of the damage is unknown. Unfortunately, in other situations, the infant’s brain damage is the result of medical malpractice.
People trust their medical professionals to provide a high standard of care for themselves and their children. When doctors or hospitals make preventable and unjustifiable mistakes that adversely impact a child’s life, they should be held liable.
Cerebral palsy could develop during pregnancy, at birth, or the first couple of years of life. When it results from medical malpractice, the negligent error usually occurs during or immediately after delivery. For example, an obstetrician could fail to recognize and treat an infant’s seizures after delivery. In other cases, difficulties arise during delivery, such as the umbilical cord wrapping around the baby’s neck, depriving the brain of oxygen and blood. When birth is difficult, a doctor will often employ forceps or a vacuum extractor to assist with the birth. If used incorrectly, these medical instruments could cause permanent brain damage.
Other issues arise if the delivery team is not monitoring the baby and mother’s vital signs, including failing to identify and address fetal distress. Additionally, if a doctor fails to diagnosis jaundice or meningitis, a lack of treatment could lead to the development of cerebral palsy.
Indications of Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice cases are typically challenging. Even in situations where a physical or hospital takes every precaution and exercise the highest level of care, negative outcomes occur. Additionally, the exact cause of cerebral palsy is not always possible to determine.
However, if your child has cerebral palsy, certain incidents could indicate that your child was the victim of medical malpractice. If one or more of these events occurred, you should contact our experienced Maryland medical malpractice attorneys.
- The delivery was difficult, requiring the use of medical instruments or a c-section.
- The child required resuscitation immediately following birth.
- Special testing was ordered following delivery, including an MRI or CT scan.
- The child suffered seizures following their birth.
- The medical team needed to supply oxygen to your child to assist with breathing.
- There were signs of head trauma or injury post-delivery.
- Jaundice developed but went untreated and did not resolve itself.
The above is not a complete list. If your child has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy and you suspect something out of the ordinary occurred during your pregnancy and delivery, contact our Baltimore birth injury attorneys.
Contact Our Maryland Medical Malpractice Attorneys if Your Child Developed Cerebral Palsy from a Birth Injury
In most cases, a child will not exhibit visible symptoms of cerebral palsy for months or years after birth. Just because the condition was not diagnosed at birth, it does not mean that your child was not a victim of medical malpractice. Symptoms do not have to be present at birth for your child’s condition to have been caused by a preventable birth injury. Call Rice, Murtha & Psoras at (410) 694-7291 to determine your next steps.