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Is cerebral palsy always due to a doctor's negligence?

According to the Mayo Clinic, cerebral palsy is "a disorder of movement, muscle tone or posture that is caused by damage that occurs to the immature, developing brain, most often before birth." In many cases, the cause of cerebral palsy is unknown. However, doctors do know that some of the reasons a baby's brain does not develop properly include gene mutations, infections, traumatic head injury or lack of oxygen to the brain. 

Cerebral palsy has many symptoms, generally movement and coordination problems, such as: 

  • Stiff muscles
  • Ataxia, a lack of muscle coordination
  • Tremors
  • Delays in motor skills milestones
  • Favoring one side of the body
  • Having a strange gait or difficulty walking
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Seizures 

Cerebral palsy typically does not get worse as a person gets older, but the brain abnormalities can lead to other neurological problems. About half of the children with CP have at least one co-occurring condition, such as epilepsy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention list CP as the most common motor disability in childhood. It seems to occur more in boys than in girls, and it is more common among black children than white children.  

Could CP be due to negligence? 

The most common causes of brain injuries in children are motor vehicle crashes, falls and infections. However, injuries or problems during birth can contribute to a brain injury in a child. If your child receives a CP diagnosis, you might want to have a lawyer review your child's health history to determine if there was any negligence on the part of the doctor. The CDC estimates that medical costs for children with cerebral palsy are about 10 times higher than a child without the disability. If the doctor or hospital was responsible for the child's injuries, you should hold the entity accountable to prevent the same thing from happening to another child and to ensure the future care of your child. Birth injuries can have long-lasting consequences for your family. 

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