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Cerebral palsy and the issue of causation

According to a recent study published in an online journal by the name of Molecular Psychiatry, a small but significant percentage of cases of cerebral palsy may stem from genetic mutations rather than mishaps during birth. The study specifically found that out of 183 cases of cerebral palsy, one in seven individuals had a gene variant which could have caused the condition.

The bottom line of the study is that at least some cases of cerebral palsy may be rooted in genetics rather than other factors, and this finding confirms previous research showing that there is a significantly greater risk of cerebral palsy for those who have a relative with a developmental disability. 

The issue is a potentially important one with respect to medical malpractice litigation involving cases of birth injury. Previously, it had been assumed that cerebral palsy is primarily rooted in oxygen deprivation at birth. Oxygen deprivation can have multiple causes, and in some cases the cause can be substandard care.

In medical malpractice litigation, the issue of causation is an important one. Proving that a patient’s injury was caused by the defendant’s negligence is not always an easy task, though. Michigan law requires that the plaintiff provide evidence of the causal connection between the defendant’s negligence and the injury in question which is beyond speculation.

What exactly does it mean for causation to be beyond speculation? The question is an important one, and we’ll discuss the issue a bit more and how it may play out in cases of cerebral palsy in our next post.

Source: Disability Scoop, “Genes May Play Bigger Role In Cerebral Palsy,” Shaun Heasley, Feb. 17, 2015. 

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