About 500,000 children in the United States have cerebral palsy, a congenital disorder that affects movement, muscle tone and motor skills. The disorder is usually caused by an infant’s brain injury before or during delivery or shortly after birth. Depending on the severity of the injury, cerebral palsy can result in paralysis, preventing children from using certain muscles or muscular functions. According to the Birth Injury Guide, about 10 percent of cases, or 1 in 10 children with cerebral palsy, are the result of a medical professional or staff member’s error.
Cerebral palsy is often due to hypoxia (lack of oxygen to the brain) or asphyxia (lack of oxygen to the body), premature delivery, or birth trauma — sometimes due to delivery mistakes and medical errors or negligence during labor or childbirth. According to Nolo, the most common signs of cerebral palsy resulting from medical malpractice may include:
- Failure to identify and/or appropriately treat infections in a pregnant woman
- Failure to properly monitor a fetus’ heart rate before, during and after labor
- Failure to observe if umbilical cord prolapse occurs
- The delay or failure to plan, schedule, or perform a medically necessary cesarean section
- Medical error or negligence in using instruments like forceps or a vacuum in performing the delivery of a baby
Cerebral palsy may manifest in several different ways. Some types will only affect fine motor skills, such as ataxic cerebral palsy, which may cause balance or depth perception issues, speech impediments, and tremors and make performing tasks such as tying shoelaces, using a pen or buttoning a shirt difficult. The most common form, athetoid cerebral palsy, is characterized by involuntary movement, difficulty swallowing, slurred speech, inability to maintain posture, and lack of muscle tone.
If your newborn child has developed cerebral palsy as a result of a doctor or hospital’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. Seeking the guidance of a New York medical malpractice lawyer who is experienced in medical error is vital in protecting your rights and securing the compensation you deserve.