My child was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. How do I know whether the doctor who delivered him could have prevented this from happening?

When your child is diagnosed with cerebral palsy, your thoughts may turn to whether there was something that could have been done to prevent this from happening. Unfortunately, in some cases the answer is yes. Certain warning signs may have existed during the labor and delivery process that may have gone unnoticed or may not have been responded to quickly enough or properly by your child’s health care team. As a result, your baby may have suffered a brain injury that ultimately led to the cerebral palsy diagnosis that you are now grappling with.

4 Warning Signs That May Have Prevented Cerebral Palsy

For parents whose children suffered birth injuries that were potentially preventable and ultimately led to cerebral palsy, legal A Newborn Baby in an Incubatoraction may be taken against the health care providers involved in his or her care. This legal action could ultimately lead to important financial compensation that can help families to afford the best possible health care, counseling, and rehabilitation that will assist a child with cerebral palsy in maximizing his or her potential.

What are some of the major warning signs that cerebral palsy was potentially preventable? The following are four examples:

  1. Your labor was especially long and difficult. While many mothers prefer to deliver their child vaginally, we are fortunate to live in a time period where surgical interventions can lead to safe and healthy outcomes for both mother and child when a birth does not go as hoped or planned. Health care providers must know when to call for a cesarean section, or C-section, and must do so in a timely manner. If labor extends beyond a healthy period of time or if a vaginal labor could clearly be harmful to the mother or child, it is the doctor’s responsibility to order a C-section to prevent injuries.

  2. Your child suffered from something called “asphyxia” during the labor and delivery process. Asphyxia is a condition that develops when a child is deprived of oxygen during delivery. Asphyxia can often cause significant damage to the brain. Ultimately, this may lead to cerebral palsy.

  3. Your child suffered from fetal distress during labor or delivery. Fetal distress occurs when the baby’s heart rate begins to fluctuate. Typically, this will sound off various alarms from the fetal monitoring equipment that is typically in place during the labor and delivery process. The equipment will mark sustained spikes and drops in the fetal heart rate. When fetal distress occurs, this is a major red flag of serious issues. Doctors will typically order a C-section take place within 30 minutes or less if this occurs.

  4. Your medical team noted the presence of meconium during delivery. Meconium is the medical term for a child’s first bowel movement. When meconium is present during labor, it can be a sign of potential fetal distress. It may also be a sign that complications arose during the delivery, leading to harm to the brain.

While the presence of these warning signs alone do not necessarily indicate that cerebral palsy could have been prevented, they are an important factor in your child’s delivery and birth and the ultimate cause of his condition. An experienced attorney will help review and analyze the details of your child’s labor and delivery to establish whether the cerebral palsy could have been prevented, and, if so, who is to blame. If your child received inadequate or substandard medical care, he or she may be entitled to pursue legal action. The compensation that he or she could receive can help to pay for important items including therapy, adaptive equipment, assistive technology, housing, and other benefits that can help improve quality of life.

Facing a diagnosis of cerebral palsy is scary for many parents, and beginning the process of pursuing legal action may feel even more overwhelming. Fortunately, we are here to help guide you through this process each step along the way. We encourage you to check out our many case results to learn more.


David Hodges
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David Hodges is a founding partner of Kennedy Hodges. He focuses his practice on personal injury claims.