Cerebral Palsy

We have successfully represented plaintiffs in civil matters for more than three decades.

Each year approximately 10,000 babies born in the United States develop cerebral palsy: a disorder of movement or coordination caused by an abnormality of the brain. It is a permanent, irreversible and a crippling condition that affects the nervous system of an infant or young child. More than 80% of people afflicted with cerebral palsy developed it before birth or within the first month of their lives. In many cases, the cause of the abnormality is unknown. However, there are times when the negligence of hospital delivery teams can cause cerebral palsy during the birth process.

Some of the more common, identifiable causes or contributing factors that can lead to cerebral palsy are:

During Pregnancy:

  • Specific types of infections may occur for the first time during pregnancy, including: toxoplasmosis, rubella, cytomegallovirus (CMV), herpes simplex, or untreated group B strep
  • Placental abnormalities may occur, including placental insufficiency or premature aging of the placenta during the pregnancy, or premature or sudden separation of the placenta from the wall of the uterus (placental abruption), causing intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR) of the fetus
  • Severe malnutrition of the mother
  • Frequent use of certain types of prescription, nonprescription or illegal drugs, or frequent use of alcohol by the mother during pregnancy
  • Exposure to certain types of toxic chemicals or other harmful environmental hazards
  • A mother’s untreated high blood pressure, preeclampsia, eclampsia, toxemia, or diabetes
  • Effects of certain types of genetic defects or syndromes
  • Rh disease and congenital rubella syndrome used to be a common cause of cerebral palsy, but can now be avoided by a simple blood test all Obstetricians should recommend.

During the Birth Process:

  • Untreated umbilical cord compression, prolapse or occlusion
  • Oxygen shortage asphyxia
  • Unrecognized or untreated signs of fetal distress from pressure on the umbilical cord
  • Dystocia, where the baby is stuck in the birth canal too long due to its size or position
  • Damage to the placenta by the birth process; placenta previa or placental abruption.

During the Newborn Period:

  • Complications of severe prematurity, including problems with the heart, blood pressure, circulation, breathing, meconium aspiration, nutrition, hydration, temperature, infection, or bleeding
  • Hereditary conditions which interfere with the baby’s digestion, and
  • Untreated seizures
  • Severe jaundice.

Each of the causes noted above has the potential to interfere with the proper development of the nervous system or with delivery of oxygen and nutrition to the brain of the fetus or newborn infant. When delivery of oxygen and nutrition is interrupted, severely impeded, or decreased over a period of time, the brain is injured. Depending on the location and extent of the brain injury, the infant may begin to show signs of delayed development, abnormal activity, increased tone, spasticity, bleeding in the brain, paralysis of the extremities, hypotonia (flaccidity in the trunk), mental retardation and other signs of defects in physical and mental functioning.

Do I have a case?

It is essential to recognize that cerebral palsy may occur even without negligence on the part of medical professionals.

It is often the case, however that the injury could have been limited in severity, or prevented altogether, had health care providers intervened at an earlier time or acted more cautiously. The only way to determine whether the injury was avoidable or the result of medical malpractice is to have the details of prenatal, delivery and newborn medical care reviewed by credentialed professionals who understand the complex physiological relationship between a mother and her fetus during gestation, birth and life outside of the womb.

What can I do?

In cerebral palsy cases it is essential that measures be taken to promptly preserve evidence, examine medical records and review the procedures in question to enable physicians or other medical experts to thoroughly evaluate the causes of injury.

If you or a loved one have been the victim of cerebral palsy, please contact Geiser, Bowman & McLafferty at 614-222-4444 / 877-706-6446. Our initial consultation is free of charge, and if we agree to accept your case, we will work on a contingent fee basis, which means we get paid for our services only if there is a monetary award or recovery of funds on your behalf. You may have a valid claim and be entitled to compensation for your injuries, but a lawsuit must be filed before the statute of limitations expires.