Risk of Cerebral Palsy in Premature Babies

child in wheelchair

Cerebral palsy (CP) is a disorder of movement, muscle tone, or posture that is caused by damage to a developing brain, most often before and during birth. According to the Centers for Disease Control, cerebral palsy might affect more than 4 out of every 1,000 children. While cerebral palsy affects each person differently, it commonly results in limited speaking abilities, the need for daily personal care assistance, and limited mobility.

In short cerebral palsy a devastating disorder, but what exactly causes it? While there is no single reason, there are several risk factors associated with CP, such as premature birth. The presence of certain risk factors may lead to an increased chance of a child being born with cerebral palsy.

Premature Babies & Cerebral Palsy

All babies born preterm are at an increased risk of having serious health problems—including cerebral palsy. About half of all children who have cerebral palsy are born prematurely. However, many premature babies born with cerebral palsy follow a pattern.

Babies born three weeks or more before week 40 of pregnancy are at a greater risk of developing cerebral palsy. Although all premature babies are at risk of CP, those delivered before the 32nd week of pregnancy are much more vulnerable. In addition, a baby's risk for CP increases as birth weight decreases. Even if a baby is full-term (born between 37 and 41 weeks), they are still at risk of developing CP if they have a low birth weight.

Other risk factors for cerebral palsy include blood clotting problems, the inability of the placenta to provide the developing fetus with oxygen and nutrients, bacterial infections, blood type incompatibility, and the prolonged loss of oxygen during the pregnancy or birthing process. While some of these risk factors are inevitable, others can easily be avoided.

Though modern technology has increased the survival rates of premature babies, their underdeveloped bodies are more likely to suffer from conditions that in turn result in CP. This makes the quality of the medical care babies receive in the earliest days of their lives absolutely crucial to their future health.

Medical malpractice can lead to acquired cerebral palsy, especially if a health professional improperly handles a baby or fails to detect and cure an infection. Medical professionals receive training to preserve the health of infants, and someone is likely responsible for your child's difficulties. If your child was injured as a result of medical malpractice, contact our Pennsylvania birth injury lawyers at Handler, Henning & Rosenberg LLC today. You may be able to recover damages for medical costs and future health treatment.

Call (888) 498-3023 to speak with an attorney. You pay nothing unless we secure results for your family.
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