There are few things as precious to new parents as their baby’s health and well-being. Unfortunately, many face the unexpected challenge of birth defects that will deeply impact the child’s quality of life, living costs and risk factors for other medical conditions on an ongoing basis.
One of the most common disabilities in early development is cerebral palsy, often caused by damage to the brain during birth or when the baby is still in the mother’s womb. According to the American Pregnancy Association, 70% of cases result from a disruption in the development of the brain before birth. A CerbralPalsy.org study reports out of every 1,000 children, 2 to 3 have one of the four types of cerebral palsy. Of the babies born each year, about 10,000 will develop the condition.
While there are several causes including fetal distress, asphyxia and meningitis, premature birth and related affects of premature birth are commonly involved. Prematurity does not necessarily mean a child will have cerebral palsy—about 7.6% of births occur prematurely– though the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports nearly half of children who do develop cerebral palsy were born prematurely.
Since babies born before 37 weeks (or less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces) are not fully developed, they are more susceptible to injury and have a higher risk of brain damage and infection. The lower the baby’s birth weight, the more danger they are in of developing the condition.
The cost over a lifetime of caring for an individual with cerebral palsy is nearly 1 million dollars, as estimated by The Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Many of the expenses involved are not covered by insurance and can put a serious financial strain on a family. Often the child will need a constant caretaker and may require years of physical and emotional therapy.
In some cases, proper care during pregnancy and delivery may have prevented cerebral palsy. A baby’s brain can be damaged in the uterus by improper drug administration by a physician or inability by a medical professional to notice and treat premature labor.
Parent and child may have a right to receive compensation for cerebral palsy cases if a doctor fails to recognize and treat problems with a baby’s development. The attorneys at Okun, Oddo & Babat are highly skilled Medical Malpractice attorneys and will work diligently to pursue legal compensation on your behalf. Contact us for a consultation.
Article by Shea Bergesen for Lavery Design Associates, Ltd.
copyright 2013. This article may not be reproduced without permission from the author.