Chicago Cerebral Palsy Attorneys
Helping Victims of Cerebral Palsy and Other Birth Injuries in Chicago
Cerebral palsy is a group of neurological disorders caused by brain abnormalities that occur during delivery or early in fetal development. The severity of cerebral palsy can vary widely from one child to another, although it generally affects sensation, muscle control, head control, walking, muscle tone, coordination, balance, and cognitive functioning.
Our Chicago cerebral palsy lawyers at Cogan & Power, P.C. understand that your child’s cerebral palsy diagnosis can be devastating and life-changing. You are likely worried about your child’s health and well-being, as well as the financial impact of their necessary medical treatments. You may wonder if the condition could have been prevented, or if your child’s cerebral palsy was caused by obstetrical negligence or medical malpractice. We can answer these questions for you and advise you on the appropriate legal steps to take to protect the interests of you and your child.
Our attorneys have obtained a number of multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements in birth injury cases, including a record-breaking $7.650 million verdict in a case in which a baby suffered from cerebral palsy caused by obstetrical negligence from a nurse who misread fetal heart monitor strips. Given this track record, we encourage you to schedule a free consultation online or at (312) 477-2500 to get started!
What Causes Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral palsy (CP) is usually caused by damage to the part of the brain that controls muscle function, which can occur during pregnancy, during childbirth, or shortly after childbirth. It may also be caused by decreased blood flow to the baby’s brain, as well as the misuse of forceps or vacuum extraction. Specifically, some common causes of cerebral palsy include:
- Failure to adequately monitor the mother or baby before and during childbirth
- Failure to promptly address signs of fetal distress
- Failure to properly administer Pitocin
- Failure to perform a timely C-section when necessary
- Infection during pregnancy
- Prolonged bleeding in baby’s brain after birth
With this in mind, cerebral palsy can be congenital or acquired, and we explain the differences below.
Congenital CP: CP related to brain damage that happened before or during birth is called congenital CP. The majority of CP is congenital, but many times, the specific cause is unknown. Factors that increase the chance of a child having CP are called risk factors, although, having a risk factor does not mean that a child will have CP. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), some of the risk factors for congenital CP are:
- Low birthweight: Children who weigh less than 5 1/2 pounds (2,500 grams) at birth, and especially those who weigh less than 3 pounds, 5 ounces (1,500 grams) have a greater chance of having CP.
- Premature birth: Children who were born before the 37th week of pregnancy, especially if they were born before the 32nd week of pregnancy, have a greater chance of having CP. Intensive care for premature infants has improved a lot over the past several decades. Babies born very early are more likely to live now, but many have medical problems that can put them at risk for CP.
- Multiple births: Twins, triplets, and other multiple births have a higher risk for CP, especially if a baby’s twin or triplet dies before birth or shortly after birth. Some, but not all of this increased risk is due to the fact that children born from multiple pregnancies often are born early or with low birth weight, or both.
- Assisted reproductive technology (ART) infertility treatments: Children born from pregnancies resulting from the use of some infertility treatments have a greater chance of having CP. Most of the increased risk is explained by preterm delivery or multiple births, or both.
- Infections during pregnancy: Infections, such as chickenpox, rubella (German measles), and cytomegalovirus (CMV), and bacterial infections such as infections of the placenta or fetal membranes can increase certain proteins called cytokines that circulate in the baby’s brain and blood during pregnancy. Cytokines cause inflammation, which can lead to brain damage in the baby. Fever in the mother during pregnancy or delivery also can cause this problem.
- Jaundice and kernicterus: Jaundice is the yellow color seen in the skin of many newborns, which happens when a chemical called bilirubin builds up in the baby’s blood. When too much bilirubin builds up in a new baby’s body, the skin and whites of the eyes might look yellow, which is called jaundice. When severe jaundice goes untreated for too long, it can cause a condition called kernicterus, which can cause CP and other conditions.
- Medical conditions of the mother: Mothers with thyroid problems, intellectual disability, or seizures have a slightly higher risk of having a child with CP.
- Birth complications: Detachment of the placenta, uterine rupture, or problems with the umbilical cord during birth can disrupt oxygen supply to the baby and result in CP.
Acquired CP: A small percentage of CP is caused by brain damage that occurs more than 28 days after birth. This is called acquired CP and usually is associated with an infection (such as meningitis), head injury, or problems with getting blood flow to the brain because of factors like stroke, bleeding in the brain, heart defects, or sickle cell disease.
Does Your Child Have Cerebral Palsy Due to Medical Malpractice?
If you suspect that obstetrical negligence or medical malpractice caused your child’s cerebral palsy, you should promptly consult with our skilled Chicago cerebral palsy attorneys at Cogan & Power. You may be able to recover compensation for your child’s medical bills, rehabilitation treatments, and other expenses, but it is important to act quickly to meet the applicable statutes of limitations.
As dedicated lawyers with a reputation for success, we are committed to providing our clients with exceptional legal representation and vigorous legal advocacy to get them the compensation that they need and deserve. We are invested in the overall well-being of our clients, meeting with them in their homes when they cannot travel and after hours if circumstances call for it.
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