Our Blogs

Understanding the Relationship between Cerebral Palsy and Medical Malpractice

Written by Elizabeth Gilbert

Bringing a child into the world should be one of the most joyous times in a parent’s life.  Sadly, for some parents, this time can also be a difficult experience.  In the United States, between 5,500 and 13,100 children are born each year with a condition known as cerebral palsy.

The Cleveland Clinic explains that cerebral palsy is a neurological condition that can cause issues with muscle tone, posture, and/or a movement disorder and it occurs because of damage to the brain during fetal development or another developmental disability that affects the way the brain develops.

What Causes Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy can develop before, during, or after birth.  Before birth, cerebral palsy can be caused by a reduced blood or oxygen supply and it can also be caused by an infection contracted during pregnancy.  During the birthing process, cerebral palsy can be caused by the brain temporarily not getting enough oxygen.

Notably, there are racial and socioeconomic disparities with this condition that are indicative of the ongoing systemic racism and classism in the United States.  Indeed, black infants have an increased risk of developing cerebral palsy when compared to white infants, and infants born to parents of lower socioeconomic status have an increased risk of developing cerebral palsy when compared to those born to parents of higher socioeconomic status.

The National Institutes of Health explains that certain events or medical problems can increase the risk of cerebral palsy at birth, including:

  • Low birth weight or preterm birth
  • Multiple gestations
  • Infertility treatments
  • Infections during pregnancy
  • Fever during pregnancy
  • Blood factor between mother and fetus does not match
  • Exposure to toxic chemicals
  • Maternal medical conditions
  • Complicated labor and delivery
  • Jaundice
  • Seizures

In some instances, cerebral palsy is an unavoidable outcome.  Nevertheless, in other instances, it may be the result of a medical error.  For instance, cerebral palsy may be the result of a medical professional’s failure to detect or treat an infection during pregnancy, plan or carry out a cesarean section when it was medically advisable to do so, or monitor and respond to signs of fetal distress during the birthing process.

In Connecticut, cerebral palsy medical malpractice occurs when a hospital and/or medical professional causes the condition to develop through a negligent act.  Such a claim must demonstrate that there was a duty to provide care to the patient, that the medical professional’s conduct fell below the accepted standard of care, and that the negligence resulted in the diagnosis of cerebral palsy.

What Can You Do if You Believe Your Loved One’s Cerebral Palsy Might Be Due to Medical Malpractice?

If you believe that your loved one may have developed cerebral palsy as a result of medical malpractice, you should reach out to an attorney right away to discuss this possibility.  Contact the experienced attorneys at Berkowitz and Hanna LLC if you have any questions about your legal rights regarding this concern.  To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation, call 203-872-0951 or contact us online today.