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Different Cerebral Palsy Causes Attributed to Abnormal Development

boy with cerebral palsyCerebral palsy is a debilitating, permanent condition that creates life-altering changes for both a child and parents. Understanding cerebral palsy causes is the first step to dealing with the condition. Some parents may find that their child’s injuries were due to medical negligence or malpractice in the delivery room, which could make them eligible for legal compensation to help pay for medical bills and the ongoing care of their child.

Apgar and cerebral palsy

One study has suggested that a low Apgar score at birth could correlate to a higher incidence of cerebral palsy. The 2010 study found that a low Apgar score was strongly associated with cerebral palsy, particularly in babies with normal birthweight. According to the findings, 11 percent of children with an Apgar score of less than 3 at birth were diagnosed with cerebral palsy, versus 0.1 percent of children with an Apgar score of 10.

A researcher from that study, Kari Kviem Lie, MD, for the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Oslo, stated that the findings suggest factors that impact infant vitality may also impact cerebral palsy risk. Infant vitality is indicated through Apgar scores, which measure infant appearance, pulse, grimace response, activity and respiration. Specific cause and effect between the Apgar scores and cerebral palsy were not determined through this research.

Other causes of cerebral palsy

In addition to Apgar scores, other factors associated with cerebral palsy include:

  • Low birthweight
  • Premature birth
  • Infection during pregnancy
  • Jaundice and kernicterus
  • Complications during labor and delivery

While none of these factors indicate cerebral palsy will occur for certain, babies with one or more of these factors tend to have a higher incidence of cerebral palsy than babies that do not have any of these issues.

Birth complications and cerebral palsy

Birth complications, particularly those that occur as a result of medical malpractice or negligence, are one of the most tragic cerebral palsy causes. When issues arise during labor and delivery, they frequently require quick response from the medical team to avoid complications like oxygen deprivation or other injury to the infant. When medical staff does not respond quickly or appropriately, injuries to the child can be life-changing.

Oxygen deprivation is one of the top birth complication associated with cerebral palsy. Babies can be deprived of oxygen for a number of reasons; umbilical cord problems, abnormal presentation in the birth canal, and a prolonged labor process. In many of these cases, additional problems can be prevented by performing an emergency Cesarean delivery. However, when C-sections are not performed in a timely fashion, it can leave the child vulnerable to oxygen deprivation, brain damage and cerebral palsy.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that in 2003, it cost nearly $1 million to raise a child with cerebral palsy. Families faced with this situation may face steep medical expenses and other bills to care for their child over a lifetime. This financial stress adds to the already challenging task of raising a child with this lifelong condition. In some cases, families may choose to file a cerebral palsy malpractice lawsuit to pursue damages that will ease the financial burden.

  1. Medscape, Low Apgar Score at Birth Linked to Cerebral Palsy,

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Causes and Risk Factors of Cerebral Palsy,

  3. Florida Health, Effect of Birth Complication/Trauma,

  4., Asphyxia and Oxygen Deprivation,

  5. U.S. National Library of Medicine, Apgar Scores and Cerebral Palsy,

  6. British Medical Journal, Association of Cerebral Palsy with Apgar Score in Low and Normal Birthweight Infants: Population Based Cohort Study,

  7. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Data & Statistics on Cerebral Palsy,