What Are the Causes of Cerebral Palsy?
According to the CDC, one in 323 children will be born with cerebral palsy. It’s the leading congenital disorder of its kind in the US, affecting an estimated half-million people of all ages across the nation. Unlike other disorders, cerebral palsy has multiple known causes, including congenital and acquired cerebral palsy.
If you find that your child has cerebral palsy, there is a chance that they were born with it and that there was nothing anyone could have done, but there is also a chance that they experienced a birth injury that caused the condition to develop. It is important to understand how your child developed cerebral palsy, as there is no known cure for it, and depending on the severity of the case, your child may need mild therapy and treatment or they may need ongoing care for the rest of their life.
Congenital Cerebral Palsy
It’s important to note that when used in association with cerebral palsy, the term “congenital” refers to any case of cerebral palsy developed before or during childbirth. This means that your child may develop cerebral palsy due to a birth injury that was the fault of a medical practitioner, and it would still be defined as congenital cerebral palsy. This does not mean that the medical practitioner whose fault it was would be released from responsibility, but it’s an important detail to know.
There are different congenital cerebral palsy causes, which include but are not limited to:
- Maternal infections – A number of infections in the mother may cause cerebral palsy in an infant if they are not diagnosed and treated before childbirth. These include meningitis, chicken pox, cytomegalovirus (CMV), rubella, and others.
- Low birth weight – Infants with low birth rates (under five pounds) have an increased risk of developing cerebral palsy.
- Multiple births – Twins, triplets, and other multiple births are at an increased chance of having low birth weight and developing cerebral palsy.
- A kinked or prolapsed umbilical cord – Problems like these with the umbilical cord can result in oxygen deprivation, which can lead to brain damage and cerebral palsy.
- Misuse of medical tools – Misuse of forceps or vacuums to assist with birth can cause brain trauma and result in cerebral palsy.
- Infertility treatments – Premature birth can increase the risk of developing cerebral palsy, and many babies born after infertility treatments are born early and/or with lower birth weights.
Acquired Cerebral Palsy Causes
If an infant develops cerebral palsy due to factors that occur after birth, it’s considered acquired cerebral palsy. While the majority of people affected by cerebral palsy suffer from congenital cerebral palsy, about 20% of cases are acquired cerebral palsy. Causes of this type of cerebral palsy include:
- Issues with blood flow to the brain – Blood clotting, sickle cell diseases, malformed or unformed blood vessels, and/or heart defects can cause a lack of blood flow to the brain, which can cause cerebral palsy.
- Head trauma – Accidents that result in brain trauma can increase the chances that a child will develop cerebral palsy, especially if the injury goes untreated.
- Low birth weight – In addition to adding to the likelihood of developing congenital cerebral palsy, low birth weight can also increase the chances of developing acquired cerebral palsy.
Cerebral Palsy Causes and Medical Malpractice
Whether a baby develops congenital or acquired cerebral palsy, a medical practitioner or institution may be considered at fault. Some of the cerebral palsy causes that can be prevented by doctors and other medical professionals include but are not limited to:
- Failing to identify, diagnose, and treat maternal infections before childbirth.
- Misusing labor assisting tools, such as vacuums or forceps, during childbirth.
- Waiting too long to call for a cesarean section procedure during a long and/or difficult labor.
If your child has developed cerebral palsy of any kind, you may be due compensation by your doctor or medical institution. Contact us at Birth Injury Center today to learn more about cerebral palsy causes, medical malpractice, and your case. We are here for you, and we will happily schedule your free consultation to help you understand your rights and the best strategy for your case.