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Knowing the risk factors associated with cerebral palsy can help parents know what to look out for and how to prepare for a healthy pregnancy and birth.
Risk factors are defined as any attribute, characteristic or exposure that would increase the likelihood of a child developing cerebral palsy.
Risk factors include things such as premature birth and health issues in the mother during pregnancy. These factors could lead to irreparable brain or nerve damage, resulting in cerebral palsy.
Being exposed to one or more of these risk factors doesn’t always mean the child will be diagnosed with CP. Similarly, if a child has no known risk factors, this doesn’t mean that they can’t develop cerebral palsy during early childhood.
By knowing what would put your baby at risk for cerebral palsy, parents can take preventative measures before, during and after birth.
There are several factors that occur before birth that can increase the chance of the child developing cerebral palsy. In fact, most cases of cerebral palsy develop as a result of issues that occur while the child is still in the womb.
About 85-90 percent of CP cases develop before or during pregnancy as a result of pre-existing or genetic factors. This is referred to as congenital cerebral palsy.
Risk factors during pregnancy that can lead to CP include:
While most cases of cerebral palsy are the result of complications during pregnancy, it is also possible for CP to develop during labor and delivery. Things such as low birth weight and a baby’s position in the womb can lead to brain or nerve damage.
Risk factors during labor and delivery that can lead to CP include:
In the cases of children born prematurely or underweight, the risk of developing cerebral palsy increases. The risk of the placenta not providing substantial nutrients increases when there is more than one fetus.
After a child is born, there are still a few risk factors that may increase their likelihood of developing cerebral palsy. About 10-15 percent of cerebral palsy cases occur more than 28 days after birth. This is referred to as “acquired CP.”
Some children develop cerebral palsy shortly after birth, while still in the delivery room. Other cases of CP can occur within the first few years of life.
The risk factors after birth that can lead to CP include:
These are the least common risk factors that may lead to cerebral palsy. It is estimated that approximately 10 percent of cerebral palsy cases were caused by a lack of oxygen. Even fewer cases resulted from the other factors listed.
Children who experienced any of these risk factors and are showing symptoms of cerebral palsy should be carefully screened for developmental milestones. Making an early diagnosis is the best way to reduce movement problems in the future.
If your child was not considered to be “at-risk” for cerebral palsy, but was later diagnosed with CP, parents may be wondering if there was any way their child’s condition could have been prevented. If you suspect that your child’s doctor, nurse or hospital facility fell below their required standard of care, you may have grounds for a cerebral palsy lawsuit.
To learn more about whether medical malpractice could have contributed to your child’s cerebral palsy, parents can get in touch with our experienced CP lawyers. They will be able to help determine if you have a case.
Click here to get started with your free case evaluation today.
Kimberlee is a writer and researcher who is passionate about helping children with disabilities enjoy a happy, healthy life. She works closely with our attorneys to create content that educates the families and caretakers of children with cerebral palsy.