Cerebral Palsy Lawyer in Chicago
Cerebral palsy is one of the most serious health conditions caused by birth injury or medical malpractice during childbirth or labor.
Every parent hopes for a healthy baby at the end of pregnancy. But when that hope is dashed to pieces because your child is born disabled or with a birth injury due to the negligence of your doctor, you want him to be accountable and he should be.
What is Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral Palsy (CP) is a term that broadly describes a series of palsies. A palsy is a disorder that impairs a person’s movement because of damage to a developing brain. Cerebral palsy generally develops by the age of 2 or 3.
It is a non-progressive brain disorder. This means that the damage to the brain doesn’t progressively get worse over time. The symptoms may change over time, either worsening or improving.
It is estimated that 10,000 infants a year are diagnosed with CP and another 1,500 preschoolers are identified as having it.
The signs and symptoms of cerebral palsy are different from each other. The signs are visible effects of a brain injury or malfunction. Whereas the symptoms are the effects the child feels as a result of the damage.
Some of the common symptoms of Cerebral Palsy may include but are not limited to:
- Variations in muscle tone
- Exaggerated reflexes
- Involuntary movements
- Lack of coordination
- Favoring one side of the body
- Delays in speech development
- Difficulty walking
It is important to realize that the signs and symptoms of CP will vary from person to person. Many of the signs and symptoms are not readily visible at birth and can take 3 years or more before a child is identified as having CP.
Causes of Cerebral Palsy Injuries
Cerebral palsy has many potential causes such as genetics, birth defects, or brain injury. However, in many cases, the brain damage is caused from oversight of the doctor or other healthcare provider when proper care is dismissed. This includes:
- Failure to properly monitor fetus distress
- Failure to spot a prolapsed cord
- Delayed delivery by physician
- Severe infection, including meningitis
- Deficient medical care providing oxygen, blood or other nutrients during delivery
Cerebral palsy is a problematic disorder resulting in lack of coordination, stiff and/or floppy muscles, and delayed motor skills. The years of physical therapy and doctors’ visits can take a toll financially. To care for someone with cerebral palsy costs millions of dollars.
Congenital Conditions Linked to Cerebral Palsy
Most disabilities and medical conditions are often connected to other conditions particularly in cases involving the brain. One such condition is cerebral palsy, which refers to a group of neuromuscular disorders that are a result of injury to the infant’s brain before, during or after birth. Cerebral palsy affects the cerebellum and some other parts of the brain, and is linked to various other medical conditions that affect the baby’s health and quality of life.
Conditions Associated with Cerebral Palsy
Almost 80-90% cases of cerebral palsy are caused by congenital conditions, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and most brain injuries happen during pregnancy. There are several risk factors or medical conditions that are associated with cerebral palsy acquired before or during the birth. These include:
- Assisted reproductive technology (ART) infertility treatments
- Premature birth
- Multiple births
- Low birth weight
It is important to understand that the presence of these risk factors does not mean that the infant will have cerebral palsy. It simply means that if the risk factors are present the chances of occurrence become high. Some of the medical conditions that can lead to cerebral palsy include:
- Intracranial Hemorrhage – Cerebral palsy may be caused by bleeding within the infant’s skull. It is a medical emergency and is known as intracranial hemorrhage. It happens when an artery or vein within the skull breaks or leaks. These hemorrhages can be a result of traumatic events such as a head injury or non-traumatic events such as cerebrovascular accident or neonatal stroke. Extremely premature babies are at a higher risk of intracranial hemorrhage, and is a result of low amounts of oxygen in baby’s blood or poor blood flow to the brain. Intracranial hemorrhage can occur due to pressure on the baby’s skull when it is passing through the birth canal. It may also occur because of a birth injury caused by the doctor during delivery.
- Jaundice – It is a condition that commonly effects newborns after birth. Jaundice is caused by the buildup of bilirubin in the infant’s blood. Excessive amounts of this chemical in the infant’s body can cause the sclera of the eyes and skin to become yellowish. Jaundice is common and effects a large percentage of newborns. However, it is important to know that is not always harmless and does not always go away on its own. High bilirubin levels can cause brain damage and in turn, cerebral palsy.
- Kernicterus – It is a medical condition caused by severe jaundice that is not treated appropriately and in a timely manner. High levels of bilirubin can seep out of infant’s blood and pool inside brain tissue. The collection of bilirubin in baby’s brain can leave yellow stains on the surface. Bilirubin is toxic and can cause damage to the cells of the cerebellum. This can lead to brain damage, which can lead to other serious conditions such as hearing loss and cerebral palsy.
Factors That Can Lead to Cerebral Palsy
Congenital CP: Causes that Increase Risk of CP
Congenital CP refers to all CP cases where CP related damage takes place before or during childbirth. The exact cause of CP is not yet clear in medical science, however, there are certain causes that increase the risk of contracting congenital CP.
Low Birth Weight and Premature Birth
These are two factors that are often seen as interlinked causes of congenital CP. Infants with a birth weight lower than 5.5 pounds – especially babies weighing less than 3.5 pounds are more susceptible to developing CP.
All premature babies have increased risks of contracting CP. However, babies born before 32 weeks of pregnancy are especially vulnerable, considering the fact that they have higher risks of suffering from medical conditions that can lead to CP.
Multiple births and Infertility treatments
A mother carrying multiple babies is often at risk of premature births, which increases the chances of CP. Moreover the risks of CP increase if one of the siblings dies shortly after the birth.
Women who conceive after infertility treatments often have multiple births. This increases the risks of the infant developing CP.
Mothers with certain infections like bacterial meningitis and viral encephalitis that affect the brain and spinal membranes of the child during pregnancy can increase the risk for the baby contracting the infection that can cause CP.
Jaundice and Kernicterus
Jaundice (or yellowing of the skin) occurs when the bilirubin count in the infant’s body exceeds normal levels. Untreated severe jaundice in infants may lead to a condition called kernicterus. At times, this condition results in a fast breakdown of the red blood cells in the baby’s body leading to CP.
Birth Injuries and Other Conditions or Infections
If the mother experiences birthing complications where the oxygen supply to the baby gets depleted due to conditions like uterine ruptures, placental detachment, or issues with the umbilical cord have an increased risk of giving birth to babies with CP.
Is There a Connection Between Anti-Depressants and Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral palsy is a movement disorder that renders a person disabled for their entire life. The condition is generally diagnosed early in childhood, and in many cases, it is a result of a birth injury that was not properly managed. There are a variety of factors that can lead to the development of cerebral palsy.
During pregnancy, the health and well-being of the expecting mother is critical. By good health we do not just mean physical health, but also her mental health. Depression is a reality that many Americans face. The unique challenges associated with pregnancy can make things particularly difficult for women. There are anti-depressants available to help patients fight the symptoms, however, it is important to note that use of anti-depressants during pregnancy can cause serious problems for the developing baby. It is imperative that the medical professionals and OBGYN caring for a woman that is pregnant, help her understand this and take her off any such medications.
The Doctor’s Responsibility
While most of us are aware that one should not use alcohol or drugs during pregnancy, many women are not aware of the ill-effects of taking anti-depressants during pregnancy. Doctors cannot just assume their patients understand the side effects of the drugs that are being prescribed to them. Instead, it is the duty of the prescribing doctor to educate the patient.
Types of Anti-Depressants and the Risks
The risk of using anti-depressants during pregnancy is often associated with a number of popular medications called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These popular drugs are linked to a significant increase in birth defects, especially if a pregnant woman takes them in her first trimester. Some of the most common anti-depressants linked to birth injuries include:
- Sertraline (Zoloft)
- Venlafaxine (Effexor)
- Fluoxetine (Prozac)
- Paroxetine (Paxil)
- Escitalopram (Lexapro)
- Citalopram (Celexa)
These anti-depressants can be effective in improving a person’s quality of life, however, they can prove dangerous to the health of an unborn baby. Children whose mother used anti-depressants during pregnancy may suffer from any of the following complications:
- Brain injuries and hypoxia that can result in conditions including Cerebral Palsy
- Heart defects
- Lung conditions such as Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn (PPHN)
- Anal atresia
- Organ development problems including Omphalocele
- Limb reductions
- Limb malformation
- Spina bifida
When the mother knows that she used anti-depressants during pregnancy, and the child shows any symptoms of the aforementioned conditions, the parents should have the child examined. If the doctor failed to advice the pregnant woman against the use of anti-depressants, and it caused a birth injury to the child, the parents may be able to file a birth injury lawsuit or medical malpractice against the doctor at fault.
What is Erb’s Palsy?
Birth injuries during delivery can sometimes lead to a number of complications. Erb’s palsy is an injury that affects a baby’ brachial plexus nerves in the shoulder area, causing weakness or paralysis of the arm and shoulder of the affected side. In this post, our Chicago birth injury attorneys will discuss this condition in detail.
Understanding Erb’s Palsy
While the condition itself is not permanent, it can take a long time (about eight months) to heal and treatment could include surgery and days of therapy for the infant. Prognosis of Erb’s palsy depends upon the following factors –
- Location of the injury
- Severity of the injury
- Time taken for detection and treatment
Erb’s palsy usually does not have any residual effects, and about 90 to 100 percent recovery with treatment is seen in mild cases. At times, the affected arm may grow shorter than the unaffected one, and there may be lingering weakness in the affected arm, or difficulty in circular movements of the shoulder and elbow joints.
If left untreated, Erb’s Palsy can render the infant’s arm completely paralysed or permanently weakened. Injuries to the brachial plexus nerves can be painful thereby causing a lot of discomfort to the baby.
Treating Erb’s Palsy
In some cases, Erb’s Palsy clears without little or no treatment. However, in severe cases, treatment is essential, and the type of treatment required depends on the severity of the condition. If the nerves are stretched or stressed, the doctor will usually recommend physical therapy like strength exercises, sensory stimulation, and range of motion exercises as a treatment for restoring the function of the arm. Hydrotherapy and occupational therapy are other therapies that are recommended for mild cases of Erb’s Palsy.
However, severe cases of Erb’s palsy, where split or torn nerves are observed, surgery is essential. Surgery is also recommended for cases where therapy does not progress well and the desired outcomes are not seen. Surgery usually includes nerve grafts or nerve decompression.
Infants suffering from Erb’s palsy, especially those involving split or torn nerves, should receive immediate treatment to avoid permanent damage. Children with permanent damage due to untreated Erb’s palsy often have permanent paralysis or permanent weakness in the arm.
When Medical Care Goes Wrong
When you go into labor, you put your faith in your doctor, trusting he will be attentive and observant of your situation. Complications resulting in cerebral palsy doesn’t just affect your precious infant, it will affect your entire family for decades as you struggle to provide the necessary care of tending to a handicapped child. It’s an emotional process and one that in many situations is often preventable. Realizing that your child will be faced with a life of difficulty and special needs attention is a hard pill to swallow.
Holding a doctor responsible for his medical error is challenging and should only be done by a skilled and experienced medical malpractice lawyer. Possible damages for compensation can include past and future medical expenses, lifelong care, loss of future earnings, pain and suffering along with a diminished quality of life. We aim to settle your case fairly, quickly, and utilize all the tools and testimonies available to resolve the matter. Our lawyers at Willens Law Offices will work tirelessly to obtain for you the settlement you need and deserve. Call us today for a free consultation!
Contact Willens Law Offices to Receive a Free Consultation from an Experienced Medical Malpractice Attorney
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