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What is cerebral palsy and why are babies born with it?

Having your baby suffer a serious injury at birth can be devastating for parents. If the injury is preventable, grief can worsen. Not all birth injuries are the result of medical malpractice, although, some doctors fail to meet the standard of care during labor and delivery.

There are several possible causes of abnormal development or damage. Educating yourself about cerebral palsy may help prevent the disorder in your child or make caring for a child with CP easier.

Defining cerebral palsy

Cerebral palsy is a brain injury that can develop by partial oxygen deprivation. This group of disorders affects a person's ability to move, maintain balance and posture. "Cerebral" relates to the brain while "palsy" refers to weakness or muscle problem.

CP can happen when the brain doesn't develop properly or when it is damaged at birth or early in life. Those born with CP have what's called "congenital" cerebral palsy. Those who develop the disorder after birth have "acquired" CP.

The severity of cerebral palsy can vary from mild to severe. There is a wide range of symptoms from muscle tone to delays in speech development.

What causes CP?

Infections during pregnancy

Developing cerebral palsy can depend on a variety of medical issues. An infection during pregnancy may increase your baby's chance of CP. This may include the chicken pox or high fevers and urinary tract infections.

Low birth weight

A birth weight of less than five pounds may increase an infant's chance of CP. Premature births also have a greater chance of having CP. Intensive care for premature infants has improved drastically over the years, as more babies are living now than decades ago.

Jaundice

Jaundice is the yellow color seen in the skin when bilirubin builds up in the baby's blood. Kernicterus, which may result from ABO or Rh blood difference between the mother and baby, can cause CP to develop.

Birth complications involving the umbilical cord can also cause CP. "Acquired" CP may be caused by an infection of the brain, an injury to the brain, or a problem with blood flow to the brain.

If you think you have a case for medical malpractice, you may consider speaking with an attorney to become aware of what your options are.

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