What Is Cerebral Palsy and How is it Caused?

Cerebral palsy is a medical term used to describe a broad group of disorders that limit the movement in certain parts of the body due to problems with the development of the brain, either in the womb or during the birthing process. Each year, up to 100,000 newborn babies are born with cerebral palsy each year. An additional 1,500 preschool-age children are diagnosed. Of all the causes of chronic childhood disability, cerebral palsy is the most common.

baby-feet-1439529-m.jpgCauses of Cerebral Palsy
There are multiple causes of cerebral palsy. In roughly 70% of the cases of cerebral palsy, the disease develops in the womb, prior to delivery. In 20% of cases, cerebral palsy is caused by some kind of brain injury sustained during the birthing process. These types of injuries include:

  • Infections during pregnancy,
  • Severe jaundice of the infant,
  • Rh incompatibility between mother and child,
  • The physical trauma of being born,
  • Brain trauma during birth, and
  • Oxygen deprivation at birth.


The remaining 10% of cerebral palsy cases arise after birth, when the child is in the infancy stage. Trauma to the head early in life may result in a child developing cerebral palsy later in life, shortly after the injury. In many cases, a very difficult birth can result in a child being diagnosed with cerebral palsy after he or she is born. Breech births also increase the risk of developing cerebral palsy.

The Costs of Cerebral Palsy
To be sure, the costs of a cerebral palsy diagnosis can be substantial. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control estimate that the life-time cost of cerebral palsy is approximately $921,000.

The medical bills that a child will incur over his or her lifetime represent a large portion of the total life-time cost. Other contributing costs are the cost of lost wages over the child’s life, the pain and suffering the child will endure, and the limitations placed on the child.

Given that cerebral palsy is a preventable disease in at least some circumstances, there is the possibility that the family of a child born with cerebral palsy may be able to recover from the delivering hospital or physician. If you have a child with cerebral palsy, and believe that it may have been due to the negligence of the delivering physician, you should speak with a dedicated birth injury attorney to discuss your potential case.

Have You or Your Child Been the Victim of a Birth Injury?

If you have recently given birth to a child, and either you or the child suffered some kind of injury, you may be entitled to monetary compensation to help cover the expenses associated with your injuries. To learn more about what a plaintiff must prove in a birth injury lawsuit, contact one of the dedicated malpractice attorneys at Wais, Vogelstein, Forman & Offutt. The skilled advocates at WVF have many years of experience bringing a wide variety of medical malpractice suits, including birth injuries. Call (410) 567-0800 to set up a free initial consultation.

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