A diagnosis of cerebral palsy for your child can change your life, your family and your future. Cerebral palsy is typically the result of either an acquired brain injury or a brain malformation during development. In some cases, there are issues with brain cells moving to the area where they need to be during development. Other times, issues arise due to inadequate insulation and protection of developing nerve cells. However, a substantial number of cases of cerebral palsy are related to perinatal brain cell death. In other words, cerebral palsy develops as a result of a preventable birth injury.
Occasionally, cerebral palsy is caused by lack of oxygen, brain damage or serious infections early in life. Advances in modern medicine make it possible for brain scans to determine when the injury occurred. That, in turn, helps families figure out how to proceed, both legally and medically.
If you suspect that your child developed cerebral palsy as a birth injury, speaking with an experienced California medical malpractice attorney may help. A lawyer can connect you with professionals who can determine if the injury was the result of a birth injury or something else.
How do birth injuries cause cerebral palsy?
When you are in labor, your doctor should be monitoring both you and your unborn child. Studies have shown that as many as half of asphyxia-related cerebral palsy birth injuries stemmed from inaccurate or insufficient monitoring. Asphyxia is the term for when oxygen flow to the brain is reduced or eliminated for any period of time. Generally, after more than a few minutes, the risk of permanent brain damage from asphyxia increases. The longer it takes a doctor to notice and intervene when your unborn baby isn’t getting adequate oxygen, the greater the risk of cerebral palsy and other birth injuries.
Modern fetal monitoring allows doctors to determine when your child is in distress. However, doctors don’t always check the monitors, which can become loose or malfunction during labor. The medical team should replace or stabilize the monitor right away to ensure they can tell how your baby is handling labor.
When medical staff fails to monitor your unborn child properly, tragedy and medical issues can arise. If that is the case with your child’s cerebral palsy, you may be able to hold the doctor responsible legally and financially culpable.
An attorney can help your family after a birth injury
In addition to connecting you with medical professionals who can determine when the injury occurred, your attorney can help you file a malpractice claim. Your lawyer can also review settlement offers to ensure that the amount is reasonable, given the amount of care your child will need.