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CEREBRAL PALSY: CAUSES EXPLAINED

Victor Lewin - Wednesday, October 26, 2016

This Blog is the second in a series of posts on Cerebral Palsy and its relation to medical malpractice. To obtain more information on CP, please reference our previous blog posts.

Wagners has extensive experience in medical malpractice and complex litigation, and has represented clients throughout Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and PEI. Wagners has been successful in many birth trauma cases, and has obtained for its clients the much needed and lifelong financial support for families with children of CP.

Overview

Cerebral Palsy is a long-term chronic medical condition that requires services for long-term supportive care. Those with CP often have associated medical conditions, including cognitive difficulties, vision loss, hearing impairment, and seizures. These conditions require diagnosis, treatment and maintenance - all at a significant cost.

(a)Preterm Birth

Between 40% and 50% of all children who develop cerebral palsy were born prematurely.[1] A great majority of these cases (75-90%) are believed to be due to issues that occur around birth.[2] Brain injury caused by oxygen deprivation to the brain, known as Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE), is a common cause of CP in newborns.

(b)Term Infants

In babies that are born at term risk factors include problems with the placenta, birth defects, low birthweight, inhaling meconium into the lungs, a delivery requiring the use of instruments or an emergency Caesarean section (C-Section), birth asphyxia, seizures just after birth, respiratory distress syndrome, low blood sugar, and infections in the baby.[3]

(c)Early Childhood

After birth, other causes of CP include exposure to toxins, severe jaundice, lead poisoning, physical brain injury, stroke, shaken baby syndrome, incidents involving hypoxia (oxygen deficiency) to the brain, and encephalitis or meningitis.

(d)Other

Certain types of maternal infections may triple the risk of a child developing CP. As well, infections and inflammation of the fetal membranes known as chorioamnionitis increases risk.[4] Intrauterine and neonatal insults (many of which are infectious in nature) also increase the risk of CP.[5]

Medical malpractice claims for CP generally arise from circumstances where the hospital, nurses, or physicians did not properly manage delivery or did not identify and appropriately respond to circumstances that threatened the baby’s fetal health.

Please do not hesitate to call Wagners if you have further questions about medical malpractice and CP and would like to consult with a lawyer.


[1] William B. Carey, ed. (2009). Developmental-behavioral pediatrics (4th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Saunders/Elsevier. p. 264

[2] John Yarnell (2013). Epidemiology and Disease Prevention: A Global Approach (02 ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 190

[3] McIntyre, S; Taitz, D; Keogh, J; Goldsmith, S; Badawi, N; Blair, E (Jun 2013). "A systematic review of risk factors for cerebral palsy in children born at term in developed countries.". Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology. 55 (6): 499–508.

[4] Bersani, I; Thomas, W; Speer, CP (Apr 2012). "Chorioamnionitis--the good or the evil for neonatal outcome?". The Journal of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal Medicine. 25 Suppl 1: 12–6.

[5] Mwaniki, MK; Atieno, M; Lawn, JE; Newton, CR (Feb 4, 2012). "Long-term neurodevelopmental outcomes after intrauterine and neonatal insults: a systematic review.". Lancet. 379 (9814): 445–52.

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