Microcephaly and Its Complications Often Result from Medical Mistakes Prior to and during Pregnancy
Children who are born with microcephaly can face lifelong challenges. Although microcephaly is characterized as rare, children are born with microcephaly in the United States every day, and the relative scarcity of cases of microcephaly provides little solace to parents whose children are born with this debilitating disorder.
If your child has been born with microcephaly, it is important that you speak with a doctor about your family’s legal rights. While microcephaly can occur as the result of genetic predisposition, other factors can play a role as well. The disorder and its complications can still be prevented – or at the very least managed – with appropriate medical care. As a result, your family may be entitled to financial compensation for malpractice, and filing a claim could be crucial to your child’s wellbeing and your family’s long-term financial stability. If you need help, contact the trusted legal team of Connecticut microcephaly attorneys at Berkowitz Hanna today.
What Is Microcephaly?
Microcephaly is a neurological condition that causes a child’s head to be physically small in proportion to the rest of his or her body. This causes the brain to develop abnormally as well, and this abnormality can in turn lead to potentially serious complications. As the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains:
“During pregnancy, a baby’s head grows because the baby’s brain grows. Microcephaly can occur because a baby’s brain has not developed properly during pregnancy or has stopped growing after birth, which results in a smaller head size.”
Similar to other types of birth injuries, microcephaly can range in terms of its severity. In most cases, the size of the baby’s head is linked to the severity of the complications resulting from his or her condition, with “severe microcephaly” presenting the greatest risks for significant developmental delays and permanent cognitive disabilities.
What Causes Microcephaly?
Microcephaly can have a number of potential causes. If your child has been diagnosed with microcephaly, determining the cause of his or her condition can be important not only for determining what forms of treatment and therapy will be necessary, but for determining your family’s legal rights as well. As outlined by the Mayo Clinic, risk factors for, and possible causes of, microcephaly include:
- Abnormal brain development during pregnancy
- Anoxia (inadequate oxygen supply to the fetus during pregnancy)
- Chromosomal abnormalities
- Fetal malnutrition
- Genetic predisposition
- Maternal and fetal infections during pregnancy
- Maternal phenylketonuria (PKU)
- Use of drugs or alcohol during pregnancy
What Are the Effects and Complications of Microcephaly?
As noted above, the potential effects and complications of microcephaly depend on the severity of the baby’s neurological condition. In addition to having a head that is physically smaller than that of other children of the same age and weight, microcephaly can also cause medical conditions and complications including:
- Developmental delays and disorders
- Difficulty swallowing
- Cognitive disabilities
- Hearing and vision problems
- Movement and balance problems
- Short stature
- Shortened life expectancy
Developmental disorders and cognitive disabilities that can result from microcephaly include hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), cerebral palsy, and other forms of palsy. For children who are diagnosed with these conditions (as well as the other conditions listed above), microcephaly can have devastating and lifelong consequences.
What Can (and Should) Doctors Do to Prevent Microcephaly and Its Complications?
Although rare, the risks associated with microcephaly are significant enough that doctors should assess maternal risk factors prior to pregnancy, and they should monitor for warning signs of microcephaly during gestation. Additionally, according to the CDC, “[b]ecause it is difficult to predict at birth what problems a baby will have from microcephaly, babies with microcephaly often need close follow-up through regular check-ups with a healthcare provider to monitor their growth and development.”
If a doctor fails to inform a woman, who is considering pregnancy, of the risk factors for microcephaly, if a doctor fails to diagnose and address risks during pregnancy, or if a doctor fails to provide adequate treatment after childbirth, these are all failures which may constitute malpractice. Doctors in Connecticut (and in all states) have a duty to provide appropriate care; and, when they fail to do so, the law holds them accountable. Families of children diagnosed with microcephaly due to malpractice will often be entitled to significant financial compensation, and hiring an experienced Connecticut microcephaly lawyer will be an important early step in the recovery process.
Speak with a Connecticut Microcephaly Attorney about Your Child’s Condition
For more information about filing a malpractice claim based on your child’s microcephaly diagnosis, please contact us to arrange a free and confidential consultation. To speak with one of our Connecticut microcephaly lawyers at your convenience, call us or request an appointment online today.