Experienced Attorneys Assisting Victims of Malpractice in Connecticut
Cerebral palsy is caused by an abnormality or disruption in brain development, usually before a child is born or during birth. The brain damage affects the child’s ability to coordinate his or her body movements, and its severity varies depending on the harm done to the brain. Regardless of the severity, cerebral palsy may be the result of medical malpractice before and/or during the infant’s delivery.
The disabilities caused by cerebral palsy, as well as its treatment and care, will be lifelong. The medical malpractice attorneys at Berkowitz Hanna counsel and represent the families of children whose cerebral palsy may have been caused by the medical malpractice of doctors and other healthcare providers.
Early Warning Signs
Often with cerebral palsy, there are early warning signs alerting healthcare providers to possible problems. For example, a premature birth occurs when an infant is born fewer than 37 weeks into a pregnancy (a normal pregnancy lasts forty), and is known to increase the infant’s chance of suffering cerebral palsy. The more premature the baby, the higher the risk of cerebral palsy. Similarly, a low birth weight – less than 5.5. pounds at birth – increases a baby’s chance of developing the disease, and, as with premature babies, the risk is directly correlated to how low the baby’s birth weight is. Breech births, when a baby is delivered feet-first rather than head-first, is also a factor that increases the chances of the disease, as are multiple babies. As the number of fetuses in the uterus increases, the risk of cerebral palsy also increases. In addition, if one or more of the fetuses die in utero, the chances increase that the other(s) will have cerebral palsy.
Some infections and health problems during pregnancy can also greatly increase the risk of giving birth to a baby with cerebral palsy. These problems include:
- German measles (rubella) – A viral infection that can be prevented with a vaccine.
- Chickenpox (varicella) – A viral infection causing itching and rashes which can also be prevented with a vaccine.
- Cytomegalovirus – A common virus causing flu-like symptoms.
- Toxoplasmosis – A parasitic infection caused by a parasite found in contaminated food, soil, and the feces of infected cats.
- Syphilis – A sexually transmitted bacterial infection.
- Exposure to toxins – Exposure to artificial substances and toxins, such as methyl mercury, can increase the risk of birth defects.
Symptoms and Types of Cerebral Palsy
After the infant is born, symptoms of cerebral palsy are often muscle-related. For example, the infant’s muscles may be too stiff or too loose, or the muscles may have exaggerated reflexes (known as spasticity). This can be further manifested in a child’s lack of muscle coordination (known as ataxia), difficulty walking, difficulty sucking or eating, tremors, and involuntary movements. It is also common for cerebral palsy patients to favor one side of the body and to have difficulty speaking.
There are several types of cerebral palsy, and your child may show symptoms of more than one type. Spastic cerebral palsy is the most common form, where muscles stiffen, making movement difficult. It may impact one side of the body (spastic hemiplegia), both legs (spastic diplegia), or all four limbs and the trunk (spastic quadriplegia). Ataxic cerebral palsy is the least common form – it affects a child’s coordination and balance. Lastly, athetoid cerebral palsy (also known as extrapyramidal cerebral palsy) accounts for about 20% of those with cerebral palsy, and it affects the whole person, often resulting in slow, uncontrolled movements.
A child’s cerebral palsy can be mild, severe, or somewhere in between. Additionally, muscle weakness, muscle spasticity, and coordination problems associated with cerebral palsy can lead to complications later in life, including:
- Contracture – The shortening of muscles due to severe muscle spasticity. This can inhibit bone growth, cause bones to bend, and cause deformed joints or dislocation of joints.
- Osteoarthritis – Pressure on, or abnormal alignment of, joints due to muscle spasticity can result in the development of this painful degenerative bone disease.
- Malnutrition – Swallowing or feeding problems may make it harder for those with cerebral palsy to get enough nutrition, which can lead to impaired growth and weaker bones. A feeding tube may be necessary for adequate nutrition.
- Mental health conditions – Psychiatric conditions, such as depression, may result from cerebral palsy. Social isolation and difficulty in coping with the disability can contribute to depression.
- Neurological conditions – Those with cerebral palsy are more likely to develop movement disorders and these neurological symptoms may worsen over time.
Contact Berkowitz Hanna to Discuss Your Cerebral Palsy Case
Treatments will vary from child to child, based on each of their specific needs. Many treatments are expensive and require special equipment or weekly visits to therapy. If your child has been diagnosed with some form of cerebral palsy, and if you believe it may have been caused by medical malpractice, protect your legal rights and the rights of your child by discussing your circumstances with a medical malpractice attorney from Berkowitz Hanna. Our offices in Danbury, Bridgeport, and Stamford handle cerebral palsy cases from across the state. Call (866) 479-7909 or visit our contact us page to schedule a consultation with an experienced Connecticut cerebral palsy lawyer today.