When you’ve experienced a seemingly normal pregnancy, it can be devastating to hear a health care provider use the words “cerebral palsy” in connection with your baby. However, you may be shocked to learn that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rank cerebral palsy as the most common childhood disability that affects motor skills. Unfortunately, this ailment and many others are caused by medical errors. An Atlanta, GA birth injuries lawyer can advise you on what to do if your baby has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy or other top infant birth injuries.
- Cerebral Palsy: Damage to the motor control centers of the brain can lead to cerebral palsy, from prenatal stages up to age five. In a fetus or newborn, cerebral palsy is often caused by lack of oxygen to the infant’s brain. The specific effects vary from minor medical issues to complete dependence on others for care. There is no cure, but treatment and therapy can improve function for the affected individual.
- Periventricular Leukomalacia (PVL): This type of birth injury is often the result of oxygen deprivation during the delivery process, otherwise known as birth asphyxia. PVL results in softening of brain matter because of the effects upon cerebrospinal fluid. Though most common in premature births, it can affect fetuses of any prenatal stage, including infants at term. Many symptoms of PVL don’t manifest until the baby experiences developmental delays. However, there are some signs that are readily obvious, such as:
- Motor skills issues;
- Spasms in leg muscles;
- Seizures; and,
- Respiratory distress.
- Erb’s Palsy: The brachial plexus is a series of nerves encompassing the cervical spine and extending into both arms of the fetus. Erb’s palsy is a medical condition that can result when this nerve network is damaged. Symptoms include weakness, loss of function, or complete paralysis of an infant’s arm on the affected side. Brachial plexus injuries usually occur during a complicated delivery, where a doctor exerts too much pressure on the neck and shoulders while guiding the infant down the birth canal. Researchers at the National Institutes of Health also report that improper use of birth assistive devices can lead to Erb’s palsy.
- Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE): Another effect of insufficient oxygen to the fetus brain during birth, HIE is a form of brain damage that can result from both preventable and naturally occurring factors. Through meticulous monitoring, proper intervention – potentially including a decision regarding a C-section – HIE is an avoidable complication during delivery. Still, even when not preventable, this condition is treatable with quick action after birth. With proper care, it’s possible for delivery room staff to reduce the likelihood or extent of brain damage.
Contact an Atlanta Birth Injury Attorney About Your Rights
If your child sustained any of these birth injuries or was harmed by other medical errors, you’ll need experienced legal representation to protect your interests. To learn more about your options, please contact the office of Julie A. Rice. Our team can schedule a free appointment to discuss your claim at our offices in Atlanta, GA.