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Cerebral Palsy in Newborns

Cerebral palsy (CP) might not be apparent in the young newborn. Symptoms become increasingly evident as the child grows and the nervous system matures.

Having seizures can be one indication of the condition. Movements that are jerky, sudden, uncoordinated can signal CP. Another sign of cerebral palsy is if the child's muscles seem limp and floppy or especially tense. Movements that are slow and writhing can also be a sign of cerebral palsy.

Failing to meet certain milestones may also reveal that a child has cerebral palsy. If a child does not meet the following age-appropriate milestones, the cause might be cerebral palsy:

  • Lifting the head, rolling over, crawling
  • Does not blink at loud noises by one month
  • Does not turn the head towards a sound by four months
  • Does not reach for a toy by four months
  • Does not sit unsupported by seven months
  • Does not say words by 12 months

Other indications may include:

  • Becoming right- or left-handed before 12 months
  • Having strabismus (one eye turning inward or outward)
  • Does not walk or walks with a stiff or strange gait (such as walking on the toes)

Risk Factors for Cerebral Palsy

Risk factors for CP may be divided into a number of categories. These include:

  • Risk factors in health of the mother: infections such as German measles, chickenpox, cytomegalovirus, toxoplasmosis, syphilis; exposure to certain environmental poisons such as methyl mercury; thyroid problems, mental retardation, seizures.
  • Risk factors in the health of the infant: Bacterial meningitis, viral encephalitis, severe or untreated jaundice.
  • Other factors of pregnancy and birth: premature birth (before 37 weeks, the earlier the baby is born, the greater the chances the child may have CP); low birth weight (under 5.5 pounds, the lower the weight, the greater the risk); breech birth (being born feet first when labor begins rather than head first); multiple births (the more babies that share the uterus, the greater the chances that one will have CP); difficult birth and delivery (if for some reason the baby's brain is deprived of enough oxygen during the birth process, the chances of CP increase.)

Was Your Newborn Diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy?

If your newborn is diagnosed with cerebral palsy, or if you think your baby is showing the signs of cerebral palsy, you should consult a cerebral palsy attorney about your rights. You might be eligible to collect compensation to help pay for your child's treatments and care if his or her condition can be linked to a mistake made during birth. To find out if you qualify, please contact our cerebral palsy attorneys for a free consultation.