What Are the Risk Factors for Cerebral Palsy During Birth?

Cerebral palsy is a motor disability that may occur in childhood. It is a group of disorders that affect a person’s ability to move and maintain balance and posture. According to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Autism and Development Disabilities Monitoring Network, about one in 323 children has been identified with cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy tends to be more common among boys than girls and more common among Black children than among white children. About 1 in 10 children identified with cerebral palsy walk using a hand-held mobility device.

In addition to disabilities with walking, speech and hearing, many children with cerebral palsy have one or more additional conditions or diseases, known as “co-occurring conditions.” For example, about 4 in 10 children with cerebral palsy also have epilepsy and about 1 in 10 have autism spectrum disorder.

Risks Associated with Cerebral Palsy

Most cerebral palsy is linked to brain damage that occurred during birth. Here are some of the risks during birth that may lead to a cerebral palsy diagnosis for your child:

Brain trauma: When there is direct trauma to the brain during labor or delivery, it may damage the child’s brain development. For example, when a medical professional who is delivering the baby applies too much force to the baby’s head or uses birth-assistive tools such as forceps or vacuum devices with excessive force, there is the risk of severe brain injury that may lead to cerebral palsy.

Lack of oxygen: When a baby does not get sufficient oxygen or experiences some type of asphyxiation, oxygen supply to the brain may get cut off causing significant and permanent brain damage. There are a number of reasons why birth asphyxia may occur. It may happen because of umbilical cord problems such as a prolapsed cord that may choke the baby during delivery. Abnormal presentation such as a breech birth where the baby does not enter the birth canal head first during labor, can also pose a risk. Delivery involving shoulder dystocia where the baby’s shoulders get stuck in the mother’s pelvic bone can cause the child to asphyxiate as well.

Infections: One of the most common risk factors for cerebral palsy is an infection. This may be an infection in the mother or in the developing fetus or newborn baby. There are a number of infections that may potentially lead to brain damage that causes cerebral palsy. An infection increases the chances of developing cerebral palsy. Studies have also shown that infections increase the risk of cerebral palsy in premature babies.

Some types of infections such as cytomegalovirus, West Nile virus and rubella have been linked to an increased risk of cerebral palsy. But, any infection that causes a fever may increase the risk. When a pregnant woman has an infection or a fever, her body produces proteins called cytokines. These proteins circulate not just in the mother’s body, but also the fetus’s body. Cytokines cause inflammation in the baby’s brain, which may lead to brain damage and cerebral palsy.

These types of risks underscore the need for medical professionals and staff to carefully monitor the mother at all stages of the pregnancy. It is the responsibility of the doctor to correctly evaluate the condition of the fetus and choose the action that would reduce or eliminate a risky delivery. If your child has cerebral palsy he or she may be able to receive compensation that helps pay for medical expenses, lost income, cost of therapy, future treatments, permanent injuries, disabilities, past and future pain and suffering, etc.

Contacting an Experienced Lawyer

The experienced New York personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Kenneth A. Wilhelm can help you better understand your legal rights and options, and also fight hard to recover just compensation for you. In an Erb’s palsy case, one of our clients secured a $2,850,000 verdict that was reduced by the appeals court to $1,846,000 because the verdict was so large. This was the highest amount upheld by the appellate (appeals) courts for many, many years. In addition we recovered $1,400,000 for a newborn who lost motion in the arm during birth due to doctors applying incorrect force on the baby’s head. Also, one of our clients obtained a verdict for $43,940,000 and another of our clients got a verdict for $23,500,000, both in medical malpractice cases.

We have seen many cases where New York City Health and Hospital Corporation facilities deliver babies who are born with cerebral palsy or Brachial plexus palsy (Erb’s palsy) stemming from negligence (carelessness), and/or medical malpractice in the labor and delivery etc. of the children.

The following list identifies some of these hospitals (operated by New York City Health and Hospital Corporation):

• Jacobi Hospital aka Bronx Municipal 1400 Pelham Parkway South Bronx, New York 10461 718-918-5000
• Lincoln Hospital 234 East 149th Street Bronx, New York 10451 718-579-5000
• North Central Bronx Hospital 3424 Kossuth Avenue Bronx, New York 10467 718-519-5000
• Coney Island Hospital 2601 Ocean Parkway Brooklyn, New York 11235 718-616-3000
• Kings County Hospital 451 Clarkson Avenue Brooklyn, New York 11203 718-245-3131
• Woodhull Hospital 760 Broadway Brooklyn, New York 11206 718-963-8000
• Bellevue Hospital 462 First Avenue New York, New York 10016 212-562-5555
• Harlem Hospital 506 Lenox Avenue New York, New York 10037 212-939-1000
• Metropolitan Hospital 1901 First Avenue New York, New York 10029 212-423-6262
• Elmhurst Hospital 79-01 Broadway Elmhurst, New York 11373 718-334-4000
• Queens Hospital Center 82-68 164th Street Jamaica, New York 11432 718-883-3000

Please contact us TOLL FREE 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-WORK-4-YOU (1-800-967-5496). WE CAN EVEN COME TO YOU. There is no attorneys’ fee unless we recover money for you. We can also help with personal injury and/or medical malpractice cases in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, or Florida. If you have been seriously injured in any of the 50 U.S. states, please call us and we will try to help you with your case.

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