Common Causes of Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder that affects a person's ability to control their body movements and posture. It’s generally caused by damage to the developing brain that occurs before, during, or shortly after birth. Heartbreakingly, this can happen due to medical malpractice or negligence. While not all cases of cerebral palsy will be caused by birth injuries, they are a leading cause of the disorder. In this article, we will explore the most common causes of cerebral palsy from birth injuries.
Lack of Oxygen During Birth
A lack of oxygen during birth is one of the most common causes of cerebral palsy from birth injuries. A lack of oxygen to the brain is also known as hypoxia or anoxia. If a baby's brain is deprived of oxygen, it can cause serious damage to cells and tissues. This is what ultimately leads to cerebral palsy. There are several factors that can contribute to a lack of oxygen during birth, including:
- Prolonged labor
- Placental abruption
- Umbilical cord prolapse
- Infection in the mother or baby
- Trauma during delivery
If a baby is deprived of oxygen during birth, healthcare providers need to act quickly to restore oxygen flow to the brain. This may involve emergency interventions such as oxygen therapy, resuscitation, or a cesarean section delivery.
Trauma During Delivery
Trauma to the head or body during the delivery can also be a cause of cerebral palsy birth injuries. This can happen more commonly when instruments such as forceps or vacuum extractors are needed to assist with a delivery. Trauma can also occur if the baby is in a difficult position. Trauma during delivery can cause bleeding, swelling, or damage to the brain, which can lead to cerebral palsy. It’s important for healthcare providers to monitor the baby's vital signs during delivery, and they must take appropriate measures to minimize the risk of trauma.
Infection During Pregnancy or Delivery
Infections during pregnancy or delivery can also cause cerebral palsy. Infections can affect the developing brain and cause inflammation or damage. Some common infections that can cause cerebral palsy include:
- Cytomegalovirus (CMV)
- Group B strep (GBS)
- Herpes simplex virus (HSV)
It’s extremely important that your healthcare provider monitors and screens for infections during pregnancy. They can then be treated in order to minimize the risk of cerebral palsy. Failure of healthcare professionals to do so could be considered medical malpractice.
Premature Birth or Low Birth Weight
Premature birth or low birth weight can also increase the risk of cerebral palsy. Babies who are born before 37 weeks of gestation or who weigh less than 5.5 pounds at birth are at a higher risk of developing cerebral palsy. This is because the baby has been born while the brain is still not fully developed making them more susceptible to brain damage. In this instance, healthcare professionals should monitor high-risk pregnancies closely and provide appropriate medical interventions to minimize the risk of premature birth or a low birth weight.
While most cases of cerebral palsy are caused by birth injuries, some cases are caused by genetic factors. Some genetic mutations or abnormalities can affect the development of the brain and lead to cerebral palsy. However, these cases are relatively rare.
Cerebral palsy is a lifelong condition that can have a significant impact on a person's quality of life. However, with physical therapy, occupational therapy, and medication, the symptoms can be managed and the quality of life improved. While not all cases of cerebral palsy are caused by birth injuries, they are a leading cause of the disorder.