Parents and Newborns can Maintain Medical Negligence Actions for Cerebral Palsy

When a medical professional breaches the applicable standard of care, and the breach results in an injury to a newborn that causes cerebral palsy, the newborn and the newborn's parents may bring a claim against the at-fault medical professional.

Cerebral palsy is a term that describes a group of neurological conditions that result in motor issues. Oftentimes, brain damage suffered in the womb, during childbirth, or soon after childbirth, serves as the cause of cerebral palsy. The condition can cause a wide range of symptoms with differing levels of severity. In fact, it is said that no two children suffering from cerebral palsy present in the same way.

The complex nature of cerebral palsy makes it difficult to accurately diagnose, especially in infants and very young children. It is also difficult to predict how cerebral palsy will affect a child as one grows and develops. There is no cure for cerebral palsy, but those with cerebral palsy can reduce the effects of the symptoms and increase their quality of life.

Doctors Struggle To Diagnose Condition

Because of the complexity of symptoms, medical professionals may have a difficult time accurately diagnosing cerebral palsy. Over time, medical science has learned that oxygen deprivation before, during, or after a child's birth is a leading cause of cerebral palsy. In some cases, a doctor's negligence causes an infant's oxygen supply to be cut off, resulting in brain damage and cerebral palsy. Sometimes, babies develop cerebral palsy due to trauma during a pregnancy, or due to a premature birth.

Parents and Medical Professionals Look For Signs of Cerebral Palsy in Newborns

In some cases, a doctor may diagnose a newborn or very young baby with cerebral palsy. Doctors can often recognize severe cerebral palsy immediately. Babies with serious cerebral palsy can develop musculoskeletal disorders resulting from their brain damage.

Other cases may be less severe and more difficult to diagnose. A doctor may locate brain damage on an MRI taken of a baby's brain. Coupling this finding with symptoms exhibited by an affected child, the doctor may diagnose the child as suffering from cerebral palsy. After diagnosis, a team of medical professionals may be assembled to ensure a child receives the critical care and therapy one needs.

Many children do not become diagnosed as suffering from cerebral palsy until they are six (6) months of age or older. Parents may notice irregular muscle growth, abnormal tightness or stiffness, and the following symptoms:

  • A baby is unable to hold up one's head while lying on one's stomach or in a supported sitting position;
  • A baby has poor posture, muscle control, or reflexes;
  • A baby experiences muscle spasms or feels overly stiff while being held;
  • A baby has swallowing or feeding difficulties;
  • A baby prefers to use only one side of its body.

When looking for signs of the condition, many practitioners and physical therapists may use the General Movements Assessment from birth to five (5) months of age. This assessment can be a strong predictor of cerebral palsy, but doctors will consider other factors before making a diagnosis.

Cerebral Palsy Symptoms can Manifest In Older Children

While a child may suffer damage to one's brain before birth, or during the childbirth process, parents and medical professionals may not notice the changes in a child's development until the child is a year old or more. In other cases, the condition may become apparent when a child reaches the age of approximately six (6) months.

A child failing to learn to walk until between eighteen (18) and twenty-four (24) months may have cerebral palsy. Children who are unable to form simple sentences by the age of twenty-four (24) months may also be affected. If a child is not reaching the normal milestones associated with childhood development, or if the child displays signs and symptoms of cerebral palsy, it may be wise to speak to an early childhood nurse, pediatrician, or general practitioner to explore whether the child is affected by the condition.

Contact Our Charlotte Cerebral Palsy Lawyers Today

With offices in uptown Charlotte, Mooresville, and Monroe, North Carolina, the personal injury attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC handle cases throughout the State of North Carolina, including cases in which a medical professional's negligence has caused a child to sustain a brain injury that has brought on the condition known as cerebral palsy.

Arnold & Smith, PLLC does not charge a fee for personal injury consultations. Give us a call today to speak with one of our experienced legal professionals about your case.

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