The birth of your baby should be a time for joy and celebration, but for roughly 7-in-1,000 American families, it is a time of pain and sadness. These are the families who were impacted by birth injuries. Some will heal with time; others are permanent. And there are other life-changing conditions that will require constant medical care and specialist visits throughout the child’s entire life. But what is this life-changing birth injury every parent should know about? Allow us to explain.
Complications during delivery that cut your baby off from oxygen (such as a delayed c-section or the baby becoming stuck in the birth canal) can cause brain damage. In severe cases, that brain damage can lead to a condition called cerebral palsy. As every brain injury is different, there is no way to say when delays during delivery could impact the child’s development or lead to cerebral palsy.
While there are several kinds of cerebral palsy (each with its own symptoms), the condition is most commonly characterized by seizures, palsy (a kind of limb paralysis), and cognitive impairment. Keep in mind, however, that cerebral palsy is not a genetic disorder; it is the result of either brain malformation or a brain injury. In fact, roughly 1-in-5 cases of cerebral palsy are the direct result of an error in the delivery room.
That said, it’s important that expecting parents are able to identify the symptoms of cerebral palsy should their child be impacted.
Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy
As with any brain injury, no two cases of cerebral palsy are exactly alike. That said, there are a few recurring symptoms that parents should know about so they can identify a potential brain injury and pursue justice for a lifetime of medical bills.
Some of the symptoms of cerebral palsy include:
Most people with cerebral palsy experience some degree of paralysis. Depending on where the brain damage occurred, this could either be their legs (paraplegia), all their limbs (quadriplegia), or one side of their entire body. Again there are degrees of severity; paralysis doesn’t necessarily mean a complete loss of control; it could mean anything from muscle weakness to stiffness of the limbs.
Sadly, between ⅓ to ½ of people with cerebral palsy experience epileptic seizures. These vary significantly in severity and could range from 30 seconds to several minutes. Seizures often strike without warning and can appear to not be triggered by any particular stimulus. When a child with cerebral palsy experiences a seizure, parents need to remain calm and place the child in a clear, open space, calling 911 if the seizure lasts more than a few minutes.
- Cognitive Impairment
Any infant brain damage is heartbreaking because there is no way to know the extent of the cognitive impairment until the child is old enough to talk and is enrolled in school. This could manifest in a variety of ways, from struggling to learn spoken language to being unable to understand logical if/then reactions. Cognitive impairment is also frequently accompanied by slurred speech.
- Difficulty Breathing and Swallowing
The paralysis from cerebral palsy can lead to weakened chest muscles, making it difficult for the child to breathe normally. This, in turn, can cause a common cough to become a much more severe illness. Likewise, a paralyzed esophagus can make normal eating impossible, requiring a feeding tube implant.
Knowing Your Options
If your child has cerebral palsy, the medical bills from frequent doctor's appointments, therapy sessions, medications, and special equipment can seem overwhelming. That’s why it’s essential that families impacted by a birth injury contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney as soon as they have a diagnosis.
A medical malpractice attorney can review all of the evidence, reconstructing what happened in the delivery room so you have a better chance at holding doctors accountable for their negligence and obtaining the damages and compensation your child needs to live a happy and comfortable life.
If your child experienced a life-changing birth injury, the Miami medical malpractice lawyers at Rossman, Baumberger, Reboso & Spier, P.A. are here for you. We have recovered millions of dollars for our medical malpractice clients and are prepared to fight for new parents impacted by birth injuries.
Contact our team today at (305) 900-5493.