Cerebral Palsy Risk Factors and the Duty of Care of Medical Providers

Cerebral Palsy Birth InjuriesThere are numerous well-established and widely known risk factors for cerebral palsy in newborns.  It is important to understand a few things about these.  First, any that are not readily apparent to the medical providers should be reported.  Second, failure to properly monitor the baby when these risks factors are present may constitute medical malpractice when a cerebral palsy birth injury is the outcome.

In cases where there were clear risks factors in advance of delivery, and cerebral palsy occurred, it may merit the review of the case by an experienced medical malpractice attorney.  Collins & Collins, P.C. can be reached at (505) 242-5958.

Cerebral Palsy is Often Beyond the Control of Medical Providers but Patients Have a Right to Know Whether Their Child’s CP Could Have Been Avoided

It should be noted that cerebral palsy birth injuries are more often than not beyond the control of medical providers.  In those cases, there would be no claim for medical malpractice.

On the other hand, most parents do not have the knowledge to determine this for themselves.  In fact, most attorneys can only take an educated guess.  Instead, the medical records must be reviewed by a medical expert to determine if medical negligence occurred and if the negligence was the cause of the cerebral palsy.  Both negligence and causation are required.

To begin the process of understanding what happened and whether it was avoidable, most patients must begin with an attorney due to the high costs of an expert medical review of the file.  The attorney will review it and then if it looks like something is there, send it on to an expert for a much more thorough and professional medical review.

Risks Factors for Cerebral Palsy

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has identified numerous risks factors for cerebral palsy.  They are by no means all related to medical negligence.  On the other hand, the existence of the risk factors suggest a heightened duty of care on the part of the medical providers involved in the pregnancy, labor and delivery.

  • Low birthweight―Children with low birth rate have an increased risk of CP, particularly those below 3 pounds.  Low birth rate is typically not within the control of medical providers.  However, the avoidance of premature delivery may be in some cases.
  • Premature birth―Premature birth is growing increasingly common.  Premature birth will often result in the aforementioned law birthweight babies.  There are many risk factors for premature birth which should be closely monitored and protective measure taken to protect the baby.
  • Multiple births―Multiple birth babies have an increased chance of CP.   This too often is the result of premature and/or low birthweight babies.  Again, a multiple birth is obvious under proper medical care which would then suggest proper protective measures to protect the babies.
  • Infertility treatments― Babies born from infertility treatments have a higher risk.  This too is related to low birthweight and preterm births.
  • Infections and illness during pregnancy―Infections during pregnancy can cause problems for the baby.  Certain infections as well as maternal fever can cause an increase in the cytokines protein which in turn can lead to severe inflammation and brain damage.  The CDC has identified several viruses that are result in increased risks of CP including chickenpox, rubella), and cytomegalovirus (CMV).  The CDC has likewise identified bacterial infections that contribute to a higher risk for CP such as infections of the placenta or fetal membranes, or maternal pelvic infections.
  • Jaundice ― Jaundice is not uncommon in babies.  Severe jaundice is.  Failure to treat severe jaundice in a timely manner can result a condition called kernicterus. Jaundice of any kind should be taken very seriously and treated appropriately.  Failure to treat severe jaundice would almost certainly suggest medical negligence.
  • Medical conditions of the mother―There are a number of maternal conditions that cann increase the risks of CP including thyroid problems, intellectual disability, or seizure disorders.
  • Birth complications―There are numerous birth complications that can result in oxygen deprivation of the child.  In these cases, it is critically important to get the fetal heart monitoring strips to figure out when and what went wrong during delivery.  The failure to properly monitor the baby’s heart rate is among the most common basis for cerebral palsy medical malpractice claims.

Heightened Duty When Risk Factors are Present

One thing that should be apparent from the list above is that many of the risk factors are not entirely within the control of the medical provider.  However, when those risk factors are present, there is a higher duty of care to monitor the risks factors, the pregnancy and the birth so that every precaution is taken to protect the baby from unnecessary injuries.

Again, most cerebral palsy is not the result of medical malpractice, but it in light of the devastating consequences to the child and family, it makes sense to investigate the causes of cerebral palsy in your own child.

The Albuquerque medical malpractice attorneys can be reached at (505) 242-5958.

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