Birth Injury and Cerebral Palsy
Article posted on:10/29/2007
A severely brain damaged child and his mother were awarded almost $8 million in damages last week in a medical malpractice lawsuit against a Maine hospital and one of its nurse midwives. In the case, the mother alleged that her nurse midwife and Central Maine Medical Center failed to recommend an emergency cesarean section during the delivery of her child, causing the child to be born with cerebral palsy that was caused by lack of oxygen and blood and to his brain.
Cerebral palsy is a complex medical condition that ranges in severity from mild to severe. Typically, those afflicted with cerebral palsy have an inability to control their motor function; i.e., they lack adequate muscle control and coordination. Common symptoms that can lead to a diagnosis of cerebral palsy include: involuntary movements of limbs; muscle spasticity (tightness), inability to walk properly (gait); seizures, breathing problems or difficulty swallowing; bladder and bowel continence issues; learning disabilities, and the impairment of one or more senses (sight, hearing, etc.). More severe cases may also result in a child having difficulty speaking.
In many instances, cerebral palsy is preventable. Perhaps the greatest risk factor associated with cerebral palsy is a lack of oxygen flowing to the child (asphyxia) during the birthing process. This can occur if the umbilical cord becomes wrapped around the infant's neck, or if the infant's head becomes stuck during the delivery. In essence, when an infant is deprived of oxygen for a prolonged period of time, brain cells die, causing injury.