Michigan birth injuries: What should parents know about cerebral palsy?

Birth injuries resulting from neglectful medical care may lead to the development of cerebral palsy for some Michigan babies.

The joy of bringing home a little one may be quickly tempered for Michigan families when signs appear indicating their babies may have a serious medical condition, such as cerebral palsy. The most common childhood motor disability, it is estimated that approximately one out of every 323 children in the U.S. has this condition, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although the exact cause of a person's cerebral palsy is not always known, birth injuries may play a role in babies developing this disorder.

What is cerebral palsy?

Cerebral palsy is the general term used for a collection of neurological disorders. Affecting the cerebral cortex, or the area of the brain that controls motor function, this condition permanently affects people's muscle condition and body movement. It typically manifests during infancy or in early childhood.

What causes cerebral palsy?

Damage to the brain occurring before, during or shortly after birth may lead to babies developing cerebral palsy. Numerous factors may contribute to causing this damage, including a lack of oxygen to babies' brains. This may result from medical professionals neglecting to monitor the infants' conditions or prolonged labor, among other issues. Neglecting to treat certain medical ailments or infections during mothers' pregnancies, jaundice in the infant after birth, or blood type incompatibility between mothers and babies may also play a role in the development cerebral palsy.

Common symptoms of cerebral palsy

Just as each child is unique, so too may be the symptoms they experience due to cerebral palsy. Some of the most common signs of this disorder include the following:

· Involuntary tremors or movements

· Variations in muscle tone

· Slow or writhing movements

· Difficulty performing precise movements

· Problems with swallowing, sucking or eating

· Stiff muscles

Additionally, people who have cerebral palsy may also favor one side of the body over the other, have exaggerated reflexes or experience delays in speech development. They may also experience neurological issues, such as intellectual disabilities, seizures or mental health conditions.

Living with cerebral palsy

The functional abilities of those with cerebral palsy may vary significantly. For example, some may have normal intellectual capacity while others have disabilities. Likewise, some may be able to walk independently or perform detail-oriented tasks while others may not. Therefore, their long-term medical care needs may differ. People with cerebral palsy often work with a medical team over the course of their lives which may include a primary care physician, neurologist, speech-language pathologist, mental health specialist, orthopedic surgeon and several types of therapists.

There is no cure for cerebral palsy, but there are treatments that may help enhance people's functional abilities and help control their symptoms. Drug treatment programs and medications may be used to help manage complications, treat pain or improve function. Some people may need to undergo one or multiple surgical procedures over their lives to help correct bone abnormalities or lessen muscle tightness. Additionally, they may also require occupational, developmental or physical therapies.

Seeking legal counsel

When birth injuries result in Michigan babies developing cerebral palsy, the effects may be devastating on them and their families. The costs of their medical care, immediate and long-term, may be unexpected and burdensome. In some situations, however, the health care professionals responsible for the injuries may be held financially responsible. Thus, people whose children have cerebral palsy may benefit from discussing their rights and options with a lawyer. An attorney may help them determine whether their child's condition might have been prevented.