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What Infections in Pregnancy Can Cause Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy is a condition that often occurs in the womb and becomes evident after a child is born. Numerous conditions might lead to cerebral palsy in children, including infections during pregnancy.

Studies have shown that certain infections can increase the level of certain proteins called cytokines that can cause inflammation and brain damage in unborn babies, leading to cerebral palsy. Symptoms of cerebral palsy might include impaired movement, floppy limbs, involuntary movements, and others. Pregnant people sometimes acquire infections because their doctors failed to take necessary preventative measures or treat infections before it was too late. In such cases, you can speak to an attorney about filing a medical malpractice lawsuit for your child’s birth injuries. It is important to keep your child’s medical records accurate and up to date, as they will probably be the key evidence in your case.

If your child was born with cerebral palsy, and you believe you experienced an infection while pregnant, your doctor might be liable for your child’s condition. Call our Baltimore birth injury lawyers for a free case review to get started. Call Rice, Murtha & Psoras at (410) 694-7291.

Infections During Pregnancy That Can Cause Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy has been linked to numerous possible causes, including certain infections. While scientific studies have connected specific infections with cerebral palsy, avoiding any infections while pregnant is best. Below are some infections that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found to increase the risk of cerebral palsy in unborn babies. Call our birth injury lawyers for assistance if your child was born with cerebral palsy.


Chickenpox is a common childhood infection known for its itchy rash. Although most people experience chickenpox in childhood, it is possible to avoid the infection until adulthood. You should alert your doctor immediately if you are pregnant and develop a chickenpox infection. Although chickenpox is not a serious infection for pregnant people, it might lead to cerebral palsy in unborn children.


Rubella, also referred to as German measles, is another infection that has been linked to an increased risk of cerebral palsy in unborn children. Like chicken pox, rubella often presents with an itchy rash, fever, sore throat, and other relatively minor symptoms. However, an infection can cause a fetus to develop cerebral palsy.

According to the CDC, rubella was eliminated from the United States in 2004, but the infection can be brought to the United States by foreign travelers. It might also be acquired by pregnant people who travel overseas. If you are experiencing any symptoms of an infection after recent travel abroad, call your doctor immediately.


A lot of people are unaware they have cytomegalovirus (CMV) in their system until their child develops cerebral palsy. This infection rarely causes problems for healthy individuals, but the virus remains in your system for life. In many cases, pregnant people picked up the virus years before they became pregnant and do not know their unborn baby is at risk. If your doctor has not talked to you about CMV already, you should discuss it with them to determine if there is any risk to your child.

Bacterial Infections

Many kinds of infections fall under the category of bacterial infections. Some examples of bacterial infections include certain sexually transmitted infections, bacterial meningitis, some cases of pneumonia, and tetanus. Some bacterial infections are minor, while others are severe, but they can be especially dangerous if the infected person is pregnant. Call your doctor immediately if you do not feel well during your pregnancy and show any signs of infection.

Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy in Young Children and Newborns

If you experienced any infection during your pregnancy, you should be on the lookout for possible symptoms of cerebral palsy in your newborn as they get older. Symptoms do not always appear right away, and it might be a few years until it becomes clear that your child has cerebral palsy. Our birth injury attorneys can help you take legal action against negligent doctors for failing to prevent or treat the infection that caused your child’s cerebral palsy.

Symptoms of cerebral palsy vary from person to person. In some people, the entire body is affected by the condition. In others, only parts of the body are affected by cerebral palsy, such as the arms or legs. In other cases, the condition affects one half of the body.

Common symptoms of cerebral palsy include the following:

  • Muscle stiffness
  • Exaggerated reflexes (spasticity)
  • Floppy limbs
  • Tremors
  • Lack of balance and muscle coordination
  • Slow movements
  • Trouble walking
  • Difficulty with fine motor skills

In addition to these symptoms, you might also notice developmental delays indicative of cerebral palsy in your child. For example, delays in speech, chewing, eating, and swallowing have been associated with cerebral palsy.

If you notice signs of cerebral palsy in your child, you should get them to a doctor for testing and diagnosis. You should also contact our Baltimore personal injury attorney to discuss holding the doctor, hospital, and other medical professionals liable for your child’s condition.

Can I Sue if My Child is Born with Cerebral Palsy?

If your child is born with cerebral palsy, you might be able to sue the medical professionals involved in your care and the care of your child during your pregnancy. Often, birth injury lawsuits are considered medical malpractice cases, and you must adhere to the laws regarding medical malpractice lawsuits in your state.

One important consideration is the need for expert evaluation. While each state might have different rules and procedures, it is not uncommon for states to require plaintiffs have their cases evaluated by a panel of medical and legal professionals to determine if a malpractice action exists. For example, in Maryland, under Md. Code, Cts. and Jud. Proc. § 3-2A-04(b)(1), plaintiffs must submit a certificate of a qualified expert attesting to the defendant’s negligence and failure to meet standards of care.

Your case will likely revolve around the standards of care and whether the defendants met those standards or provided substandard treatment. This can be a complex analysis, as each patient might require unique treatment, and doctors are not expected to always provide perfect treatment. Our Bel Air personal injury lawyers can help you begin your case and determine if your doctor failed to meet standards of care, thus causing your child’s cerebral palsy.

Call Our Birth Injury Attorneys for a Free Review of Your Case

If you have noticed symptoms of cerebral palsy in your child and believe you might have experienced an infection while pregnant, get to a doctor and call a lawyer immediately. Our Dundalk personal injury attorneys can offer a free case review to get you started. Call Rice, Murtha & Psoras at (410) 694-7291.