Cerebral palsy is a cluster of disorders affecting movement, posture and muscle tone. It is caused when the immature brain is damaged, most often before or during birth. It is often discovered during early childhood.

There are a range of symptoms for those who have cerebral palsy, such as:

  • Stiffness or floppiness of the trunk and limbs
  • Abnormal reflexes
  • Unusual posture
  • Involuntary movements
  • Unsteady gait, walking on toes or an asymmetrical gait
  • Poor balance and lack of muscle coordination
  • Delays in motor skills milestones
  • Favoring one side of the body
  • Drooling and problems swallowing
  • Difficulty suckling or eating
  • Delays in speech development
  • Learning difficulties
  • Problems with fine motor skills
  • Seizures

People with cerebral palsy often have normal intellect, but some have intellectual disabilities. The range of physical problems is broad, with some people able to walk and function normally to a great extent, while others may require substantial assistance on a daily basis.

The symptoms may affect only one limb or side of the body. As the child grows, their symptoms may worsen or become less apparent.

Causes of cerebral palsy

It isn’t always clear what causes cerebral palsy, but we do know that it is generally the result of some sort of disruption or abnormality in brain development. It can sometimes be traced to a genetic cause. Other times, cerebral palsy is the result of head trauma after birth, such as in a fall or a car accident. Sometimes, a maternal or infant infection during pregnancy or birth can cause the condition. A fetal stroke can disrupt the blood supply to the brain.

It’s important to understand that your child’s cerebral palsy may not be anyone’s fault. In some circumstances, however, substandard care during labor and delivery.

During the delivery process, doctors or nurses sometimes make mistakes that lead to hypoxia (a loss of oxygen to the baby’s brain) or asphyxia (a more serious oxygen deprivation.) One example of such a mistake is to allow the baby to remain in the birth canal too long.

There are many factors to consider when trying to determine whether medical malpractice is responsible for a particular child’s cerebral palsy, but finding the answer is important. Cerebral palsy may mean your child will need substantial medical care for life. If a doctor, nurse or hospital’s substandard care did cause your child’s condition, the responsible party should be held to account for it.

If you suspect your child was injured during birth, contact an attorney experienced with medical malpractice and birth injury cases for an evaluation of your situation.