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Cerebral Palsy Risk Factors

There are numerous factors that can contribute to a child being born with cerebral palsy (CP). One of the biggest risk factor is oxygen deprivation, also known as asphyxia. Oxygen deprivation can deprive the brain of the fetus or newborn child of oxygen, resulting in death of brain cells and damage to the muscles of the body controlled by those particular cells.

Asphyxiation May Result From:

  • Problems with the umbilical cord, such as when the cord is compressed or around the baby’s neck choking him or her during delivery.
  • Hemorrhaging (excess bleeding) during pregnancy or delivery.
  • Abnormal presentation, which occurs if the baby’s head does not enter the birth canal first during labor.
  • Prolonged or traumatic delivery. Among other causes, this can be due to the baby’s head being too large to fit through the birth canal.
  • Shoulder dystocia. This happens when one or both shoulders gets stuck inside the mother’s body after the baby’s head has passed through the birth canal.
  • Shock in the mother which is a complication of bleeding and fetal distress.
  • Medical malpractice, such as failure to properly monitor the baby during labor and delivery, waiting too long to do a caesarean section, or not dealing properly with a tangled or compressed umbilical cord.
  • Birth complications, which can include some of the above factors plus emergency caesarean section,, prolonged second stage of delivery (which occurs when the cervix is dilated to 10 cm through delivery), premature separation of the placenta from the mother’s uterus, premature rupture of the membranes because the amniotic sac ruptures before labor and/or a low APGAR score.

Other Risk Factors for Cerebral Palsy

  • Premature birth before the fetus has reached 37 weeks gestation
  • Late term birth after 42 weeks gestation
  • A first pregnancy
  • Previous premature delivery
  • High risk pregnancy
  • Staying in the neonatal intensive care unit
  • Breathing problems
  • Extremely low (below 2 lbs., 3 oz.) and very low birth weight babies (from 2 lbs., 3 oz., to 3 lbs. 5 oz)
  • A combination of multiple births and fertility drugs, premature rupture of membranes, umbilical cord accidents during delivery, abnormal presentation during delivery, caesarean sections, low birth weight or premature birth
  • Infection (including viral, bacterial, fungal, parasitic and sexually transmitted infections)
  • Blood type incompatibility
  • Jaundice
  • Health and habits of the parents, including biological maturity or advanced age, overweight, underweight, malnourished, vitamin deficiency, amino acid deficiency, eating disorders, mothers who are less than five feet tall, reproductive abnormalities (small pelvis, prior complicated pregnancies, double uterus, incompetent cervix)

Medical Mistakes and Cerebral Palsy

Mistakes made during the delivery process can also result in cerebral palsy. Mistakes may include:

  • Waiting too long to deliver a baby
  • Failing to do a caesarean section when necessary
  • Poorly monitoring the fetus during labor and delivery
  • Improperly rotating a baby to allow it to exit the birth canal when the head does not present first
  • Not properly dealing with shoulder dystocia
  • Not preventing the umbilical cord from interfering with the baby’s birth

For more information, contact a cerebral palsy birth injury lawyer today.