Cerebral palsy can result from complications during prenatal care, labor, delivery, or newborn care. Serious injuries can be caused by oxygen deprivation to the infant’s brain. Failing to perform a cesarean section, abuse of Pitocin, the misuse of forceps or vacuum during a baby’s delivery, or the miscalculation of the baby’s size can contribute to serious brain injuries of the baby.
This disease can affect a child’s motor skills, senses, muscles, and mental development. How severe the condition is depends on the extent of the brain injury affecting the motor area of the brain. The symptoms of cerebral palsy may take time to manifest over the first years of the child’s life. Symptoms include:
- Abnormal or decreased muscle tone
- Difficulty walking or maintaining balance
- Involuntary muscle movements
- Slow development in rolling over, crawling, smiling, and talking
- Sucking and swallowing problems
- Unusual posture and poor coordination
Infants who are born with cerebral palsy experience varying degrees of mental retardation or learning disabilities. Birth injuries that result in cerebral palsy, mental retardation or developmental delays will have lifelong consequences for the baby and their entire family.
There are three main types of cerebral palsy:
- Spastic cerebral palsy – causes difficulty with movement and stiffness.
- Athetoid cerebral palsy – symptoms include uncontrolled movements.
- Ataxic cerebral palsy – alteration of depth perception and balance.
It is important that an immediate and thorough investigation of the entire labor and delivery process be conducted to determine whether the oxygen deprivation or trauma that was suffered by the child prenatally, during labor or delivery, or after the birth could have been prevented. Any deviations from the accepted standards of care will need to be identified, such as actions that can deprive the baby of oxygen and result in cerebral palsy.
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