Can Cerebral Palsy Be Prevented?


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Cerebral palsy is a motor disability that affects over 10,000 children each year in the U.S. When a child is born with cerebral palsy, it is often due to events that happen during pregnancy, childbirth, or immediately following the birth. While many cases of cerebral palsy occur due to unknown causes, there are some that occurred as a result of negligence or errors made by medical professionals that could have been prevented. For parents of children with cerebral palsy who believe that their children’s conditions were caused by medical negligence or mistakes, there are legal options they can take. An experienced medical malpractice attorney can help.

How Can Cerebral Palsy Be Prevented?

There are various things that doctors and parents can do to lower the risk of a child developing cerebral palsy before pregnancy, during pregnancy, during labor and delivery, and after the baby is born. The following are some of the precautions that can be taken to reduce the risk of developmental problems, including cerebral palsy.

Before Pregnancy

  • Make sure vaccinations are up to date. Some diseases (such as rubella and chicken pox) can harm a developing baby, so it’s important to be vaccinated prior to becoming pregnant.
  • Maintain good health. Ensure that any infections or other contagious conditions are treated promptly – ideally prior to becoming pregnant.
  • Consider reducing chances of multiple births. If prospective parents are using assistive reproductive technology (ART) as treatment for fertility problems, they, along with their doctors, should consider ways to decrease the chances of having a multiple pregnancy. For example, transferring just one embryo at a time.

During Pregnancy

  • Have regular prenatal care. Pregnant women need to begin having prenatal care as soon as they suspect they are pregnant. This is a benefit for both mother and baby throughout the pregnancy.
  • Reduce the chances of infection or illness. Expectant mothers should wash their hand thoroughly and often to avoid infections and sicknesses. Additionally, when moms-to-be run a fever, feel sick, or have other symptoms of illness or infection, they should consult their doctor right away.
  • Get a flu shot. Women who expect to be pregnant during flu season, or who are already pregnant before flu season, should get a flu shot. They are not shown to be harmful to unborn babies, and it may provide the protection needed to prevent a serious influenza case.
  • Have an Rh factor test. All expectant mothers should have this test to ensure that there isn’t an incompatibility between them and their unborn babies. If there is, the condition can be treated, and the pregnancy and baby can proceed as normal. Without treatment, there are negative outcomes that may occur.

During Labor and Delivery

  • Know what to expect. It’s essential that expectant parents know what to expect during labor and delivery so that they can alert a nurse or doctor should anything unusual happen during this stage. Delaying medical attention when something is wrong during labor increases the chance of a baby being born with nerve or brain damage.
  • Monitor fetal and maternal heart rate. Doctors or nurses should be aware of any dangerous changes in the heart rate of the mother or baby. If the monitoring equipment sounds an alert and there isn’t a medical professional in the room, expectant parents need to call for help right away.

After the Baby is Born

  • Treat jaundice promptly. Any baby can develop jaundice. It is when it goes untreated that it can cause a type of brain damage called kernicterus. Kernicterus can be a cause of cerebral palsy that can be prevented with the proper treatment.
  • Stay up-to-date on baby’s vaccinations. Babies need to be protected from meningitis and encephalitis, which can lead to brain damage that causes cerebral palsy. Making sure that they have all the necessary vaccinations on time, will help prevent these conditions from occurring.
  • Prevent injuries. Some injuries, especially those that cause trauma to the head, can lead to the development of cerebral palsy. Keeping children safe to prevent such injuries is essential. That means that parents should:
    • Use the appropriate size and type of car seat for their child, making sure that it is properly installed in the car.
    • Babyproof (childproof) the home to prevent injuries from furniture, electronics, windows, etc.
    • Watch young children around any areas with standing water including pools, bathtubs, natural bodies of water, or any other place with water.
    • Make sure children wear helmets when riding a bike.

What to Do When You Believe Your Child’s Cerebral Palsy Was Preventable

If your child developed cerebral palsy and you believe that it is due to a preventable event, you should consider taking action legally. Cerebral palsy is an incurable condition that is costly – both in parents’ stress and energy levels, as well as financially. If a medical professional caused your child’s cerebral palsy by negligence or medical mistake, you may be entitled to compensation to help alleviate the financial burdens that come along with cerebral palsy.

Ross Feller Casey is widely considered among the nation’s top medical malpractice law firms and has an unmatched record of obtaining multi-million dollar recoveries in birth injury cases, including those involving cerebral palsy.

If your family’s case of cerebral palsy could have been prevented, contact Ross Feller Casey now for help with your claim. We can help you provide for the financial future of your family.

Disclaimer: Ross Feller Casey, LLP provides legal advice only after an attorney-client relationship is formed. Our website is an introduction to the firm and does not create a relationship between our attorneys and clients. An attorney-client relationship is formed only after a written agreement is signed by the client and the firm. Because every case is unique, the description of awards and summary of cases successfully handled are not intended to imply or guarantee that same success in other cases. Ross Feller Casey, LLP represents catastrophically injured persons and their families in injury and wrongful death cases, providing legal representation in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.