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What is Cerebral Palsy and How Can it be Caused by Medical Negligence?

2 August 2019

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Cerebral palsy is the medical term used to cover a range of neurological conditions, which affect a person’s coordination, muscle control, reflexes, posture and balance. It is caused by damage to a baby’s brain before, during or soon after birth.

True Solicitors highlights the causes of cerebral palsy before, during and after birth, and what action you can take if your child developed cerebral palsy as a result of negligent medical treatment.

Causes of Cerebral Palsy before birth

Cerebral palsy can develop whilst the baby is growing in the womb due to issues that affect the baby’s brain development, such as:

• An infection caught by the mother – such as rubella, chickenpox, CMV or toxoplasmosis.
• An injury to the unborn baby’s head which may have been caused due to the mother experiencing a fall.
• The baby experiences a stroke in the womb, due to bleeding on the brain or the blood supply to the brain being cut off.
• Periventricular leukomalacia (PVL) – which is damage to the white matter of the brain, caused due to a reduction in blood or oxygen supply.

Causes of Cerebral Palsy during or after birth

Cerebral palsy can also develop as a consequence of complications during or soon after birth. Common causes include:

• Complications during labour which mean that the baby is temporarily deprived of oxygen. This can happen as a result of delays in delivery.
• A premature birth
• A bleed on the baby’s brain.
• Gene defects affecting the development of the brain.
• An infection of the brain, such as meningitis.
• The mother having extremely low or high blood pressure.
• Failure of medical practitioner to effectively monitor the baby’s heartbeat.
• Failure of a medical practitioner to diagnose and treat low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia).

How negligent medical treatment may have been the cause of Cerebral Palsy?

Negligent medical treatment may have been a contributing factor in a child developing cerebral palsy, if it can be proven that the medical practitioner made an avoidable error during labour, or failed to treat or diagnose an illness or infection such as jaundice or meningitis, which caused the cerebral palsy. The most common causes of cerebral palsy through medical negligence include:

• Delay in delivery causing the baby to be deprived of oxygen.
• Delay in the diagnosis and treatment of meningitis.
• Failure of the medical practitioner to effectively monitor the baby’s heartbeat.
• Failure of a medical practitioner to diagnose and treat low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia).
• Failure to diagnose and treat jaundice that can lead to brain damage which can cause cerebral palsy.

The effects of Cerebral Palsy

The effects of cerebral palsy differ from person to person. Some people with cerebral palsy grow up to live largely independent lives, whilst others will require every day assistance for the rest of their lives. Conditions associated with cerebral palsy include:

• Issues with mobility, muscle control, motor control and coordination
• Difficulty with feeding, swallowing and speech
• Learning difficulties
• Behavioural problems
• Epilepsy
• Lack of bladder and bowel control
• Sensory impairment
• Lack of spatial awareness

What to do if I would like to make a medical negligence claim for Cerebral Palsy

Speak to a member of True Solicitors medical negligence team today to find out if you’re eligible to make a claim. True Solicitors will handle your claim with sensitivity and compassion, offering you solid legal advice at each step of the claims process. We offer a free, no obligation initial assessment and will handle your claim on a No Win, No Fee basis.

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