Cerebral palsy is a physical disability affecting posture and movement. Two brain damage types can cause this disability, including developmental brain malformation and neurological damage. The former is caused by a baby’s brain failing to develop properly, but the latter, which is more frequently diagnosed, results from illness or injury to a normally developing brain. While not all illness or injury-related cases of cerebral palsy can be avoided, many of those caused by medical mistakes can be, such as these:
Misuse of Forceps or Vacuum Extractors
Forceps and vacuum extractors are suction cup devices that physicians apply to the tops of babies’ heads to pull them through the birth canal. While effective in some cases, law firms like The Tinker Law Firm PLLC see many instances where they haven’t been.
Studies have shown a link between vacuum extraction delivery and subgaleal hematoma bleeding in the brain. Associated injuries can be life-threatening and sometimes leave children with life-long brain injuries.
Failure to Diagnose a Macrosomic Baby
Macrosomia describes a baby that weighs more than average for its gestational age. larger-than-average babies can result in a range of delivery complications, such as more prolonged labor, fractured bones, and shoulders stuck in the birth canal. Macrosomic babies can be identified before birth in many ways, such as through ultrasounds, fundal height, and amniotic fluid levels. However, failure to notice macrosomia may result in birth complications, birth delays, and an increased risk of cerebral palsy.
Failure to Treat Preeclampsia
Preeclampsia is a pregnancy-related condition characterized by high blood pressure, protein in the urine, and leg swelling. It usually occurs in women after 20 weeks of pregnancy and can be life-threatening for the sufferer. Generally, medical professionals can diagnose preeclampsia through protein in the urine indicating impaired kidney function, a low blood platelet count, and elevated liver enzymes.
However, failure to diagnose and manage pre-eclampsia can sometimes have devastating consequences for the baby. According to studies, exposure to preeclampsia is linked to an increased cerebral palsy risk in newborns.
Inadequate Resuscitation Attempts
Many pregnant women do all they can to look after their baby while it’s developing, such as eating the right foods and taking supplements to promote healthy growth. However, these actions don’t always guarantee that the birth will go to plan, and, sometimes, resuscitation of the infant after birth can be required.
Most physicians follow neonatal resuscitation guidelines issued by the American Heart Association and the American Academy of Paediatrics since they understand that failure to follow them can result in poor outcomes.
These guidelines include questions to determine if resuscitation is required, such as whether the infant was born at full-term, any evidence of infection, whether the infant is breathing or crying, or if the infant has good muscle tone.
If the answer to any of these questions is ‘no,’ actions like stabilization through warmth, a clear airway, and re-positioning, followed by ventilation, chest compressions, and epinephrine administration, might be required. If a medical professional fails to take these resuscitation actions appropriately, a baby might be at risk of death or life-long brain injuries, such as cerebral palsy.
Most medical professionals don’t intentionally put a baby’s life in danger, but it can happen. Any of these medical mistakes above might have severe consequences for a mother and their new baby.