Can cerebral palsy be prevented?
Sadly, there is no current method in place to fully prevent cerebral palsy from developing during pregnancy, delivery or shortly after birth. This is because the exact cause of CP is not yet fully understood.
However, there are a number of things that parents and doctors can do to reduce the chances that a child develops cerebral palsy. These preventative measures may be more or less effective depending on when the brain or nerve damage takes place.
For parents who suspect that their child’s cerebral palsy may have been the result of a preventable birth injury, there are many options that can help. Support options are aimed at recovering legal compensation that could be used towards treatment and continued care.
Preventing cerebral palsy during pregnancy
For expectant parents, some of the most common concerns center on how to ensure a healthy pregnancy and delivery. This often includes questions about how to prevent developmental or movement conditions, such as cerebral palsy.
While there is no magical formula or method that would guarantee a healthy baby, there are a few things that parents can do to reduce the risks to their baby. Prevention during pregnancy is based on maintaining good habits and staying healthy.
Routine doctor visits throughout pregnancy are instrumental in catching any potential complications that would affect your child’s development while in the womb. Issues such as incompatible blood types can be treated to reduce the risk of a child developing cerebral palsy.
Other ways that may help prevent cerebral palsy during pregnancy include:
- Avoiding exposure to infections or viruses known to impact fetal health, such as German Measles, Cytomegalovirus or Zika
- Getting vaccinated appropriately
- Controlling underlying health issues, such as blood pressure, diabetes, etc.
- Avoiding alcohol, cigarettes, recreational drugs, and prescription drugs known to pose risks during pregnancy
- Identifying any potential Rh incompatibility between mother and child
How receiving a Rh factor test can help
Rhesus factor, or Rh, is an inherited protein that is found on the surface of red blood cells. If this protein is detected in your blood, you are considered “Rh positive.” If your blood lacks this protein, you would then be considered “Rh negative.”
Most people are Rh positive. Being Rh negative isn’t a condition that impacts your general health or wellbeing; however, it can impact your pregnancy. Individuals who are Rh negative require special care during pregnancy, as this condition can impact both the mother and baby.
Receiving a Rh factor test is an important step that all mothers should take during their early pregnancy. Oftentimes, your doctor or OBGYN will recommend getting this testing done during your first visit. If this option is not offered to you, mothers could consult with their doctor about how to receive this important blood test as soon as possible.
If it is determined that you and your child have incompatible blood types, your doctor will need to monitor your child’s development very closely while in the womb. Intervention methods, such as a blood transfusion, will be administered on an as-needed basis to prevent secondary conditions from forming, such as CP.
Preventing cerebral palsy during birth
Modern improvements in medical care have made it easier for parents and doctors to ensure a safe delivery. Advancements in ultrasound equipment, x-rays and imaging tests allow for more detailed information to be gathered about a baby’s health while in the womb. Many maternal and infant health complications can be treated when caught early on.
It’s essential that parents are informed about what to expect during a typical birth. If at any point you suspect that your child’s health is at risk, parents should alert a doctor or nurse immediately. Any delay in medical attention can increase the chances that your child is born with brain or nerve damage.
Some other tips to reduce risk factors during labor and delivery include:
- Monitor maternal and fetal heart rate. If an alarm bell sounds and a medical staff member is not in the room, call for help immediately.
- Remain as calm as possible during delivery. Stress-induced trauma to the infant brain can be reduced by maintaining a quiet, peaceful delivery room
- Receive regular checkups with your doctor. This is especially important in the weeks leading up to giving birth.
The importance of treating jaundice
Jaundice is the yellowing of the skin that is commonly seen among newborns. When severe cases of jaundice go untreated, this can lead to a serious condition called kernicterus.
Kernicterus is a form of brain damage that results from high levels of bilirubin in a baby’s blood. This brain damage has been shown to cause cerebral palsy among other health conditions, such as deafness or intellectual disabilities.
Actively treating jaundice in a newborn is an effective way of preventing CP. If parents notice that their child’s skin is exhibiting a yellow pigment that has not yet been treated appropriately, they could seek out medical intervention as soon as possible. If left untreated, jaundice can lead to permanent brain damage.
Preventing cerebral palsy after birth
In order to reduce the risks of a child developing CP after being born, there a few things that parents can do. CP prevention during this stage is centered around monitoring developmental milestones, and reducing the chance of head trauma.
Some tips for preventing CP after birth include:
- Making sure your child is vaccinated for all common infant infections
- Using the correct car seat for your child’s weight and height
- Using a crib with bed rail
- Never leaving your child on high countertops or surfaces unattended
- Never shake a baby
Reducing the risk of head injury
While cerebral palsy is often the result of complications during pregnancy and delivery, this condition can also be caused by head injuries taking place during early childhood. These injuries can be the result of motor accidents, falls, drowning, or shaken baby syndrome.
Due to the heightened risk of CP after birth, parents can ensure that their child is using the appropriate car seat for their height and weight. This will avoid any chances of a child slipping through their seat in the case of an accident. Children should also wear protective helmets at all times when riding a bike, skateboard, motorcycle etc.
Swimming and bathing also pose a risk for brain damage. Parents should never leave their child unattended while in a pool or bathtub, as they are at risk of drowning. Additionally, parents should never shake their baby, as there are cases of CP related to shaken baby syndrome.
Was my child’s CP preventable?
Many parents of a child who was recently diagnosed with cerebral palsy wonder if there was anything that could have been done to prevent this from happening. While there are many cases where the CP was not preventable, there are a growing number of cases where the medical staff or hospital is to blame for your child’s condition.
Parents who suspect that their child’s doctor, nurse or hospital facility may have contributed to their child’s CP diagnosis could consider legal action. This involves getting in touch with a cerebral palsy lawyer, who may be able to determine if your child’s case could have been prevented.
Filing for a cerebral palsy lawsuit could allow parents to receive valuable financial compensation that can be used to pay for their child’s CP treatment, therapy, assistive technology, mobility aids and more.
To find out if your child’s cerebral palsy was the result of medical negligence or malpractice, click here to get in touch with our team of CP lawyers. They will be able to help guide you through the logistics of filing a case and provide you with information on how to get started today.