Cerebral palsy is caused by abnormal development in the brain or damage to a developing brain. In most cases, the injury can cause the child to lose the function of his or her muscles. For many years, the medical field believed that a lack of oxygen caused cerebral palsy. However, this cause only accounts for a small number of cases.
Brain damage can happen before birth, during birth, and months after the child was born. There are some cases where the child’s brain is damaged a couple of years into their lives. In any case, you will want to monitor your child for signs of brain damage. If the medical team was at fault for your child’s injuries, you might have the right to seek compensation. Contact the team at Raynes Lawn Hehmeyer, and you’ll be connected with experienced attorneys who will fight for the compensation you and your family deserve
Risk Factors for Cerebral Palsy
There are two types of cerebral palsy: congenital and acquired. If the brain damage occurred before birth, it is known as congenital cerebral palsy. This is the most common type of diagnosed cerebral palsy. It is estimated that 85 to 90 percent of cases fall into this category. There are some risk factors for this type of cerebral palsy, and they include:
Premature birth: A baby born before the 37th week of pregnancy has a greater chance of developing cerebral palsy. For those born before the 32nd week, the probability is even higher of having cerebral palsy.
Low birth weight: A baby who weighs less than 5 ½ pounds at birth also has a higher chance of developing cerebral palsy.
Multiple births: These births also have a greater risk of getting cerebral palsy, especially if one of the babies died before birth.
Assisted reproductive treatments: Some infertility treatments can raise the risk of cerebral palsy. In most cases, the highest risk is with preterm birth or multiple births.
Infections during pregnancy: If the mother had an infection during pregnancy, there could be an increase in specific proteins known as cytokines. These proteins circulate throughout the brain, and they can cause inflammation in that area. Fever, rubella, chickenpox, and bacterial infections can increase your child’s risk of developing cerebral palsy.
Jaundice: This condition can cause the baby’s skin to turn yellow at birth. Jaundice occurs when bilirubin builds up in the child’s bloodstream. When there is too much bilirubin in the body, the whites of the eyes and skin will look yellow. If the jaundice is not treated, it can lead to a condition known as kernicterus. The red blood cells will start to break down at a rapid pace. This condition can lead to cerebral palsy and other problems for the baby.
Mother’s medical conditions: Mothers who have certain health conditions can put their child at risk. Seizures, intellectual disability, and thyroid problems can all lead to a higher chance of cerebral palsy.
Complications during birth: Umbilical cord problems, uterine rupture, or placenta detachment can result in cerebral palsy.
The second type of cerebral palsy is known as acquired cerebral palsy. This condition only occurs in a small percentage of births, and it is the result of brain damage more than 28 days after the delivery. Many children will develop acquired cerebral palsy as the result of a head injury or an infection. Like congenital cerebral palsy, some factors can increase your child’s risk of acquired cerebral palsy. These risk factors include:
Low birth weight: Babies who are born prematurely have a higher chance of acquired cerebral palsy.
Infancy: All infants have a higher risk of experiencing brain damage than older children.
Brain infections: For unvaccinated babies, there is a higher chance of brain infections that can cause cerebral palsy.
Injury: Any injury to the brain area of a baby can increase the risk of developing cerebral palsy in the developing brain.
Diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy
Typically, cerebral palsy is diagnosed between 18 and 24 months. However, many parents notice the signs much earlier. In some cases, the child can be diagnosed at six months. Doctors will start to monitor the baby, especially if he or she experienced a birth injury. There are several ways to diagnose cerebral palsy, and they are conducted at certain stages of the child’s life.
Medical professionals will use developmental monitoring to track the child’s growth over a period of time. This type of monitoring is essential if the baby was born at low birth weight. The doctor will usually perform a physical exam to see how the child’s muscles respond. If any issues are spotted, then the doctor will perform a developmental screening test.
These screenings are short tests to see if the child has any developmental delays, such as issues with motor skills or movement. Depending on your doctor, the screening tests may be a questionnaire filled out by the parents or physical examinations of the child.
The goal of a medical evaluation is to diagnose the child for a specific disorder. The doctor will examine the child’s muscle tone, reflexes, motor skills, and posture. During this time, the doctor will rule out any other disorders that can cause the same symptoms. Many children with cerebral palsy have other conditions, including seizures and intellectual disabilities. Hearing, vision, and speech problems are also prevalent issues. Your doctor will usually perform these medical evaluations. However, child neurologists, developmental pediatricians, and pediatric physiatrists can also conduct tests on the child.
With the evaluation, the doctor will look for the cause of cerebral palsy. In these cases, the medical professional might suggest magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), x-ray computed tomography (CT scan), genetic testing, or an electroencephalogram (EEG). For many cases of cerebral palsy, the child is diagnosed during the first or second year of birth. If the symptoms are mild, then the child might not be diagnosed until a few years later.
Signs and Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy
While the signs of cerebral palsy do appear in the early stage of the child’s life, they are often not diagnosed until the child has some signs of delayed development. Many babies reach these milestones at a certain age. Some signs that could appear in your child include:
- Cerebral palsy symptoms in babies younger than six months
- When the baby is picked up, they cannot hold their head up
- When held, the baby may try to overextend their neck and back
- The baby feels floppy or stiff
- As the baby is picked up, the legs will criss-cross or get stiff
- The baby has cortical thumbs
Cerebral palsy symptoms for babies older than six months:
- The baby develops a left or right-handedness earlier than other children
- The baby cannot lift their hands to the mouth
- The baby struggles to bring hands together
- The baby does not roll over in either direction
Cerebral palsy signs in babies older than ten months:
- The baby cannot crawl on all fours.
- The baby only crawls in a lopsided motion.
- The baby is unable to stand on their own.
If you are noticing any of these signs, it is essential to discuss it with your doctor. You never want to ignore any of these signs, and a complete medical evaluation may be required for your child.
Understanding Developmental Progress
All healthy babies reach certain milestones in their development. These milestones are often documented as behavioral or physical signs in infants and children. Crawling, walking, talking, and even rolling over are all critical, and they provide vital information about your child’s development.
These milestones are different for every age group. The benchmarks are certain behaviors that can emerge over time, and they give your child the building blocks for learning and growth. Some of these milestone categories include:
- Motor coordination: Jumping, hopping, gross and fine motor skills, and drawing
- Cognition: Problem-solving, reasoning, thinking, and understanding
- Social interaction: Group play and peer contact
- Adaptive: Washing, dressing, and eating
Your doctor will address your child’s milestones during the checkup visits. However, if you notice any signs of delayed development, you should contact your medical provider immediately. It is important to remember that children do develop at their own pace. In some cases, children may skip over milestones. Other children may need more time to develop. Your doctor will be able to tell you whether the child is experiencing delays and how you need to address them.
Normal Stages of Development
With normal stages of development, your child will reach certain milestones. Many doctors will start to perform these tests at six months, nine months, one year, 18 months, and 24 months. Here are some of the typical stages of development in a child.
Six months: The baby will begin to become more social and express emotion. They will recognize faces and mimic sounds. Your child will start to reach and grasp for toys.
Nine months: The baby is ready to explore, and most will pull up to stand and crawl. The baby will also respond to his or her name and cuddle with the family.
One year: After the first birthday, the growing process will slow down. At this age, the child is a toddler, and they are more active. Your toddler may stand on their own or even take a few steps.
Eighteen months: The toddler is now using basic words and walking. They will point at objects that they want or throw temper tantrums as they get frustrated.
Twenty-four months: By two years of age, the toddler is walking, talking, running, and jumping. Your child will have an increase in their vocabulary, and many will start to show signs of independence.
Visible Signs of Cerebral Palsy
There are certain unmistakable signs of cerebral palsy. However, you need a medical professional to make this diagnosis for your child. Some of the signs that may be indicative of cerebral palsy in your child include:
- Difficulty speaking or understanding language
- Retention of primitive reflexes, such as rooting
- Poor coordination
- Curling hand into a fist
- Bone and joint deformities and contractures
- Soft tissue issues, including a decrease in muscle mass
- Hearing, vision, and processing difficulties
- Increased contractions and reflexes
- Inability to control bowels or bladder
- Toe-walking or scissor-walking
- Postural abnormalities
- Abnormal tongue and mouth patterns
- Delayed reactions and increased clumsiness
The Importance of Identifying Cerebral Palsy Early
With cerebral palsy cases, it is crucial to diagnose this disorder as soon as possible. An early diagnosis will allow your child to get the correct treatment and therapy regimens. Once your child receives early treatment, then they can get therapy to increase their cognitive, social, physical, and emotional skills.
In addition to that, you want an early cerebral palsy diagnosis for your child, especially if you believe the condition was caused by medical malpractice. A negligent doctor might have caused a brain injury, and you could be entitled to compensation. You need to get those funds to help in the child’s medical care for therapy, treatments, and lifestyle adjustment resources.
For those who wait with a diagnosis, you may be running out of time to file a lawsuit. The statute of limitations is a set period to bring forth a lawsuit against the negligent medical staff. It is vital to detect the early signs of cerebral palsy and get the right diagnosis for your child. If the birth injury was the result of medical malpractice, then you need to pursue legal action to help improve your child’s quality of life.
If Your Child Is Developing Slowly
Any child with slow development needs to be examined by a medical professional. Many children do develop later than others. However, if the delayed development is a result of cerebral palsy, you need to know your options for medical treatment and legal rights. Many birth injuries can result in the development of cerebral palsy. If this was the issue with your child, you need to seek help from an experienced attorney. You can seek monetary damages in a medical malpractice case that could help with your child’s increasing treatment bills.
The team of Raynes Lawn Hehmeyer is ready to help with your case. If you want to schedule a consultation, please fill out the contact form at raynesylaw.com or call 800-535-1797.
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