Cerebral palsy is a chronic condition that can impair muscle control, coordination, sensory perception and learning abilities. This disorder develops as a result of damage to the brain early in life. As Joliet birth injury attorneys could explain, this damage may occur during pregnancy, childbirth or shortly afterward. In many cases, the disorder may be prevented if doctors take the following measures during pregnancy or birth.
Checking Rh compatibility
Most people genetically inherit a protein called Rh-factor, which is found on the surface of red blood cells. When a mother lacks Rh factor and carries a baby who has it, the baby is at risk for Rh disease. This condition occurs when the mother’s immune system identifies the baby’s blood cells as foreign and attacks them. Rh disease may cause various harmful outcomes, including jaundice and brain damage, which can both result in cerebral palsy.
A doctor can prevent Rh disease by injecting a pregnant woman with a blood product. This product stops the mother’s immune system from becoming sensitized to the baby’s blood cells. Mothers typically must receive this product 28 weeks into their pregnancies. Unfortunately, if a doctor fails to perform blood tests or administer the product, the baby may develop cerebral palsy.
Doctors can also prevent cerebral palsy by addressing infections that cause or contribute to the disorder. These infections include:
- Rubella, toxoplasmosis and cytomegalovirus — these can directly cause brain damage and cerebral palsy.
- Infections of the placental membranes — according to research, these may contribute to cerebral palsy.
- Reproductive tract or urinary tract infections — these may increase the likelihood of premature delivery, which greatly raises the risk of cerebral palsy.
During pregnancy, doctors should remain alert to signs of these and other infections, as any Joliet birth injury attorneys would note. Often, intervention during pregnancy can prevent complications associated with prenatal infections. After the birth, doctors should also perform vaccinations against other diseases known to cause cerebral palsy, such as meningitis.
Oxygen deprivation can result in brain injuries during delivery, which can cause cerebral palsy. Asphyxia may occur for various reasons, including prolonged delivery, excessive bleeding, umbilical cord problems and maternal shock. During delivery, it is essential for doctors to monitor early warning signs of these issues and take action to prevent further complications.
Sadly, in many cases, cerebral palsy may develop because of risk factors that should have been addressed during pregnancy or the delivery. When this occurs, parents have the right to seek compensation on behalf of the child through a medical malpractice lawsuit. Joliet birth injury attorneys may be able to further advise parents of their rights following substandard care during pregnancy or childbirth.