Dr. Bruce Fagel practiced emergency medicine for 10 years before becoming an attorney and he currently maintains his medical license in California. His track record as a California medical malpractice lawyer and a doctor gives him the edge that is needed for maximum recoveries, awards and settlements in complex California medical malpractice cases. He is dedicated to fighting for his clients and getting them the results they deserve.
The term cerebral palsy refers to a motor coordination problem due to an injury to the brain, which controls both voluntary movement and coordination. It is characterized by either weakness or stiffness of the arms and legs and can be associated with seizures and/or some degree of mental retardation. There are several different types of cerebral palsy, based on either a description of the effect on the child’s movement or the area of the brain that is affected. The overall incidence of cerebral palsy is reported to be about 2.5 per 1,000 live births in the U.S. The most common reason or cause for cerebral palsy is prematurity, where the baby is delivered before the brain is fully developed. Babies who are born prematurely in the range of 26-30 weeks gestational age have a significantly increased risk of developing cerebral palsy.
However, babies born at term (more than 37 weeks) can also develop cerebral palsy if there is significant hypoxia or asphyxia associated with the delivery. Because any degree or type of cerebral palsy can have life- long consequences to both the baby and the family, any circumstance when a baby is diagnosed with cerebral palsy requires a careful investigation of the facts and circumstances surrounding the labor and delivery to determine if the hypoxia or asphyxia could have been prevented. In many cases, evidence in the medical records, including the fetal monitor strip, will show significant problems during labor that should have led to an earlier delivery that would have prevented the outcome of cerebral palsy. To watch an informative video regarding fetal monitoring, featuring Dr. Fagel, please
The diagnosis of cerebral palsy is generally made after birth, when there is evidence of either developmental delay or a movement disorder or both. Although many babies who are born severely asphyxiated at birth, and who demonstrate problems with feeding and/or have seizures, will clearly develop a full picture of cerebral palsy, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that its members do not diagnose a child with cerebral palsy before age two. Thus, many children who have or will show all of the clinical signs and symptoms of cerebral palsy, do not get officially diagnosed until after age two, and thus they may not qualify for some public programs and benefits which require a diagnosis of cerebral palsy.
Therefore, in any case where there have been significant problems during labor and/or delivery, and the baby requires admission to the NICU because of birth depression, the parents should be aware of the potential for long-term consequences to the child and should insist on complete evaluation by a pediatric neurologist or developmental pediatrician to plan a course of therapy or other interventions early in the child’s life. Medical malpractice or negligence may be the cause of your child's diagnosis of cerebral palsy.
Facts about Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy involves a number of complex neurological disorders that can range in severity from minor motor skill dysfunction to involuntary movement and seizures. On this page, we have compiled basic facts and some statistics regarding cerebral palsy to help you better understand these medical conditions.
- There are actually multiple types of cerebral palsy, including spastic cerebral palsy, athetoid cerebral palsy and ataxic cerebral palsy.
- Cerebral palsy may not be diagnosed until a child is 2 or even 3 years old.
- Cerebral palsy is a non-progressive condition, meaning it will not worsen over time.
- The lifetime costs associated with cerebral palsy may total into the millions of dollars.
- Lack of oxygen to the brain is a known cause of cerebral palsy. Additional causes include asphyxia, premature delivery, infection and head trauma.
- Cerebral palsy was first identified in 1860 by a British surgeon William Little.
- It is estimated that 10,000 infants will develop cerebral palsy each year, in the U.S. alone.
- Approximately 80% of those who suffer from cerebral palsy have spastic cerebral palsy, the variation which is characterized by stiff and difficult movement.
- Approximately 80% of cases involving cerebral palsy are developed before the baby is one month old.
- It is estimated that 70% of children with cerebral palsy developed it due to an event before birth which interfered with normal brain development.
- Developmental delays are estimated to affect 25-33% of children with cerebral palsy.
- Seizures may be associated with cerebral palsy.
Click to view a Cerebral Palsy video