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What Causes Cerebral Palsy - Medical Malpractice Lawyer Compensation

LAWYER HELPLINE: ☎ 855 804 7145

Many parents want to know why their child has cerebral palsy. In a few cases, the answer is completely unclear; however, in the majority of cases, the cause is due to brain damage sustained in utero, at the time of birth or even after birth, up to the age of three years.

The brains of infants around the time of birth are still developing rapidly. If something happens, such as an anoxic episode, this halts the development of the brain and the infant suffers from motor complications.

Development of CP

There are two main issues surrounding the development and cause of cerebral palsy. These include the following:

  • Nerve damage to the developing brain
  • Failure of development of the brain in the first place


The severity of the disease depends on when it occurs in the life of the infant and on how much of the motor areas of the brain is affected. For example, cerebral palsy occurring in a very premature baby can affect a much more immature brain so that the motor areas do not develop well. Anoxic injuries at birth can affect the motor areas of the brain to a greater or lesser degree.

In preterm babies, there is a greater risk of intraventricular hemorrhage, which usually borders the motor areas of the brain. This is why preterm babies have a higher risk of cerebral palsy when compared to babies born full term.

Cord Accident

A baby can suffer a cord accident, which leads to temporary anoxia (lack of oxygen) to the brain. This usually occurs in the third trimester of pregnancy but can occur at the time of delivery. A cord accident happens when the umbilical cord gets wrapped around the baby's neck or becomes compressed within the womb so that oxygen and blood doesn't get to the fetus. A prolonged cord accident can result in death but a short cord accident instead results in things like cerebral palsy.

Fetal Infection

Another cause of brain injury leading to cerebral palsy is meningitis or another fetal infection. This usually occurs shortly after birth and would not be a phenomenon of intrauterine life. Meningitis should be expected whenever an infant has a fever and neurological signs unassociated with any other possible condition.

Brain Injury

Ten to fifteen percent of cases of cerebral palsy are due to a brain injury that can be easily recognized such as meningitis, hemorrhage in the brain and lack of oxygen. Brain injuries occurring around the time of birth or during the birthing process are usually preventable. This basically means that many of these cases of cerebral palsy are due to a medical mistake. Doctors can fail to recognize fetal anoxia, a lack of fetal growth or low amniotic fluid volume which can lead to cerebral palsy. A low heartbeat or evidence of fetal distress during labor needs to be taken seriously as a sign of antepartum hypoxia and things like giving the mother oxygen or doing a cesarean section need to be entertained before fetal hypoxia can occur.

Uncommon Causes

More uncommon causes of infant cerebral palsy include radiation exposure in utero and multiple births. Cerebral palsy is more common when there are multiple births such as twins, triplets and more babies, often secondary to these being preterm births. In identical twin births, there can be a loss of one of the twins due to abnormalities of the placenta and the umbilical cord. The surviving twin can do well but also can suffer from a lack of adequate blood supply due to perturbations of blood flow in the cord.


The best way to prevent cerebral palsy is to prevent preterm birth. It is the responsibility of both the mother and the doctor to recognize and take seriously the presence of preterm labor. Up to fifty percent of cases of cerebral palsy are directly due to preterm birth.

Intrapartum Asphyxia

Intrapartum asphyxia accounts for ten percent of cases of cerebral palsy and this can be prevented by the doctor not making medical mistakes during labor.

Medical Malpractice Lawyers

Most cases of cerebral palsy occur naturally as a birth injury and do not involve medical malpractice however a small percentage of these cases are most definitely caused by negligence on the part of healthcare professionals. If you have any reason whatsoever to suspect that the cause of your child's condition is due to a clinical error amounting to medical malpractice on the part of any healthcare professional, be it a doctor, midwife, nurse or technician please contact us without delay. There are time limits on claims against medical staff, hospitals and clinics and delay can preclude an award of compensation. Our medical malpractice lawyers offer a free consultation without obligation to establish whether or not you have a viable case to claim compensation for your child's injuries. Please contact us without delay by completion of the contact form or you can email our offices and a specialist medical malpractice lawyer will call you.

LAWYER HELPLINE: ☎ 855 804 7145