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Could my child’s cerebral palsy be caused by medical malpractice?

Cerebral palsy is a movement disorder that is caused when damage occurs to a developing brain. A child with cerebral palsy can show symptoms in infancy, but sometimes a child may not begin to show symptoms until he or she is 3 or 4 years old.

In many instances, the cause for cerebral palsy is unknown. Cerebral palsy can develop when not enough oxygen reaches a fetus’s or baby’s brain, when a maternal infection impacts a developing fetus or when an infection causes inflammation around an infant’s brain, among other known causes.

In what circumstances can medical malpractice cause cerebral palsy?

Medical malpractice can cause cerebral palsy during fetal development, during delivery or shortly after birth. Some instances in which a child's cerebral palsy could be cause by medical malpractice, include when:

  • An administrative error prevented a provider from knowing of a preexisting medical condition
  • Medical professionals failed to detect or react appropriately to fetal distress during delivery
  • Data was misinterpreted from prenatal tests
  • Parents were not fully informed of the possibility that their child could have cerebral palsy
  • A maternal infection during pregnancy was not diagnosed or treated as quickly as it should have
  • A medication that is dangerous during pregnancy was prescribed to the mother
  • A prescription was incorrectly filled at a pharmacy for the mother
  • The condition of the mother or child were not monitored appropriately when anesthesia was used

Are there any signs that may indicate medical malpractice?

Although it can be challenging to determine the cause of a child’s cerebral palsy, there are some signs that, if present, may indicate medical malpractice could be the cause. Your child’s cerebral palsy may have been caused by medical malpractice if your child experienced any of the following symptoms after birth:

  • Skull fractures
  • Low oxygen levels
  • Low heart rate
  • Weak reflexes
  • Hands curled into a claw-like shape
  • Muscle stiffness or muscle looseness
  • Arched back while crying
  • Seizures

Raising a child who has cerebral palsy can be expensive. However, if medical malpractice caused your child’s cerebral palsy, legal action may result in compensation for medical expenses and other costs associated with raising a child who has cerebral palsy.

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