According to a study published by The US National Library of Medicine, close to 1/3 of patients diagnosed with cerebral palsy had at least one adverse event occur during their birth. Adverse events include: placental abruption, uterine rupture during labor, fetal distress, birth trauma, cord prolapse, and mild to severe birth asphyxia. 7242 children with cerebral palsy were studied, and close to a third suffered problems at birth that may have been preventable.
Asphyxia at Birth Can Cause Cerebral Palsy
A traumatic birth experience can lead to asphyxia, a leading cause of cerebral palsy among infants. Birth asphyxia occurs when the baby does not get adequate oxygen either while in the womb, during labor, or right after birth. While it is not always possible to know if a baby is not getting enough oxygen, asphyxia can be caused when the mother’s blood pressure is too high or too low. The baby may not get enough oxygen if the placenta pulls away from the uterus too soon. If the delivery is exceptionally long or difficult, the baby may also suffer from asphyxia.
If the mother has a serious infection, if the baby is anemic, or if the mother’s blood is unable to carry enough oxygen to the baby, asphyxia can occur as well. Problems with the umbilical cord also cause many cases of asphyxia, leading to cerebral palsy.
Preventative Measures During Birth to Ensure a Safe Delivery
It’s important for doctors and nurses to monitor the health of the mother and the baby during the delivery process. Insufficient monitoring, or not acting quickly enough when the baby or mom is in obvious distress are two reasons medical neglect can occur. Throughout the delivery your heart rate will be measured, your blood pressure checked, and the heart rate of your baby will be monitored. While it is normal for your baby’s heart rate to dip during contractions, a heart rate that doesn’t rise back up quickly can be a sign of infant distress.
Signs that your baby is in distress include:
- Less overall fetal movement.
- A heart rate that dips and remains low.
- thick meconium in the water when your water breaks.
- Preeclampsia (high blood pressure) in the mother.
If there are signs that your baby is distressed, it is time for your baby to be born. If you are not in active labor, yet your blood pressure is dangerously high, you may face a C-section so that the baby is delivered safely. Preeclamspia is a dangerous condition for both the mother and the baby, and the safest treatment is delivering the baby as quickly as possible.
When Your Baby is Born with Cerebral Palsy
When your baby is born with cerebral palsy, it’s likely that you aren’t thinking about a medical malpractice lawsuit right away. But as time goes on, you will begin to understand just how hard it is going to be to take care of your child as they grow up with this disabling condition. It is expensive to raise a disabled child, and it doesn’t hurt anyone to talk with an injury lawyer to determine who (if anyone) is responsible for your baby’s injuries. While the causes of cerebral palsy will vary, close to 1/3 of patients with the condition had problems during their birth. It is important for the future stability of your child to have a neutral party look at the case to see if it has any merit.