Cerebral Palsy Prevention

Quick Answer

Cerebral palsy is generally caused by illness, viral infection, premature birth, birth complications or physical injury. Although there is no cure for cerebral palsy, the condition can be prevented. It is important for expectant mothers to know the factors associated with a higher risk of cerebral palsy. Quality medical care can go a long way to reducing the risk of your child developing cerebral palsy.

Get a Free Case Review

Is Cerebral Palsy Preventable?

Cerebral palsy is a debilitating physical and neurological condition caused by a brain injury during, prior to or immediately following delivery. Unfortunately, cerebral palsy has no cure, and children with the condition often require a lifetime of medical treatment to manage their condition.

The most common causes of cerebral palsy include physical injuries and viral infections. For instance, infant meningitis is a dangerous infection which can inflame a baby’s brain tissue and cause cerebral palsy. On the other hand, physicians can cause physical injury to the child’s head, neck and shoulders during delivery with the use of tools such as forceps or methods like vacuum extraction.

The best way to prevent cerebral palsy is with quality medical care during pregnancy. Quality care can identify issues that can lead to bacterial or viral infections. Experienced doctors also do not need extraction tools such as forceps during delivery in most cases. Improper use of extraction tools can cause lasting damage to the infant’s brain.

Care to Prevent Cerebral Palsy

Expectant mothers can help prevent cerebral palsy by focusing on good nutrition during their pregnancy and maintaining access to quality health care. Research has shown that populations with high instances of cerebral palsy lack access to healthy foods and quality health insurance.

Illnesses, viral infections, premature births, physical injury and birth complications can all cause cerebral palsy. These factors can be mitigated and negative outcomes can be avoided if mothers know what to look for.

Physical Injury

Inexperienced or rushing physicians may use tools such as forceps to assist with delivery. These tools can cause significant injury to the head, neck and shoulders of the infant and lead to brain injury.

Vacuum extraction is another delivery method which can lead to head injury. Experienced doctors understand how to handle a delivery without putting the child’s physical health at risk in most cases.

Physical injury is an major cause of cerebral palsy in infants, and it is preventable in most cases. When doctors misuse tools such as forceps or when they fail to address a birth injury in a timely manner, medical malpractice or negligence may occur.

If your child received a cerebral palsy diagnosis or is showing signs of the condition, speak to a medical professional to determine the cause of the disorder and whether it was the result of malpractice.

Illnesses and Viral Infections

Illness such as jaundice can lead to cerebral palsy if left untreated. Viral infections like infant meningitis also increase the risk of cerebral palsy through the inflammation of the brain and central nervous system.

Quality medical professionals can identify illness and infection and treat these conditions before they cause lasting damage.

Premature Births

Premature births and underweight newborns are more likely to suffer from cerebral palsy. Generally, the chance of premature birth can be reduced through quality medical care throughout pregnancy.

Birth Complications

During difficult deliveries, a child may twist and turn unnaturally in the birth canal. This may impede the flow of oxygen to the child’s brain. If the baby’s brain is not receiving enough oxygen during delivery, brain damage and cerebral palsy may result.

Quality, experienced medical staff will usually be able to identify birth complications quickly and remedy the issue before the problem becomes critical.

Exposure to Toxins

Exposure to certain toxins such as methylmercury during pregnancy can increase risk of brain damage and cerebral palsy. Expectant mothers must be aware of their environment and which toxins may be part of their surroundings.

Choosing Proper Medical Care

Choosing the right doctor and hospital is critical when it comes to childbirth. Experienced doctors know what to look for, and they understand the risk factors that can lead to physical injury.

This is why having quality health insurance reduces the chances of birth injury. Women with health insurance access can typically pick doctors and hospitals that they are comfortable with and that have a strong track record of success.

It is vital for expecting mothers and their families to properly communicate their needs to a medical team during delivery. This can significantly reduce the risk of physical injury and cerebral palsy.

Let the medical team know if you have any specific concerns, such as a prior bacterial infection or questions about oxygen flow to your child’s brain. Addressing your concerns can go a long way to reducing the risk of brain injury.

Accidents do happen, and it is impossible for the risk of injury during delivery to fall to zero. However, with proper care, the chances of your baby developing cerebral palsy can be minimized.

Cerebral Palsy and Medical Malpractice

Many cases of cerebral palsy are caused by the negligence or medical malpractice of hospital staff. These cases of cerebral palsy could have been avoided. Common mistakes, such as not checking on the flow of oxygen to the infant’s brain during delivery, can have devastating consequences. Misuse of delivery tools such as forceps or methods such as vacuum delivery can have irreversible consequences on your newborn as well.

If your child has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy due to physical injury, you may be eligible for a financial settlement. This financial settlement may pay for some or all of your child’s medical care.

Protect Your Child With Birth Injury Prevention

There is no cure for cerebral palsy. However, expectant mothers can reduce the risk to themselves and their unborn child by understanding which health factors are associated with the condition.

Poor maternal nutrition and exposure to toxins such as methylmercury can significantly increase the risk of cerebral palsy. Physical injury caused by use of delivery tools such as the forceps, as well as poor practices such as rushing a delivery, can also lead cerebral palsy.

Expectant mothers and their families should identify potential risks so they can mitigate them early on. You can protect your child’s future by working to ensure quality health care and the prevention of medical negligence.

That said, we understand that some things are out of your control as a new parent. If your child was diagnosed with cerebral palsy or another birth injury as a result of medical malpractice, you may be eligible for financial compensation. You do not have to fight this battle alone if your child suffered a physical injury at birth.

Birth Injury Support Team

The Birth Injury Justice Center was founded in 2003 by a team of legal professionals to educate and empower victims and families affected by birth injuries. Our team is devoted to providing you with the best resources and legal information for all types of birth injuries.

View Sources
  1. Cerebral Palsy: Hope Through Research. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/patient-caregiver-education/hope-through-research/cerebral-palsy-hope-through-research
  2. Cerebral Palsy. (2019, August 17). Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cerebral-palsy/symptoms-causes/syc-20353999
  3. Stavsky, Moshe, Omer, Andrea, S., Greenbaum, Shirley, … Erez. (2017, January 25). Cerebral Palsy-Trends in Epidemiology and Recent Development in Prenatal Mechanisms of Disease, Treatment, and Prevention. Retrieved from https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fped.2017.00021/full