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Law Offices of David M. White

the injured,
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Abilene Birth Injury Lawyer

Why does your child have cerebral palsy?

Cerebral Palsy and Birth Injuries Due to Medical Malpractice are a preventable tragedy in many cases. The simplest answer to this question is because your child has brain damage. Why does your child have brain damage? There are many possible answers but in general, there are two problems that can cause cerebral palsy:

  • Failure of the brain to develop properly
  • Neurological damage to the child’s developing brain

Can Cerebral Palsy be Preventable?

When genetics play no role in the onset of the Cerebral Palsy, the condition is preventable as long as mothers and doctors take measures to minimize the following risk factors:

  • Breech birth (birth with the feet delivered before the head)
  • Exposure to toxins, such as mercury
  • Fetal and maternal infections (while meningitis and other brain infections in infants can cause CP, so too can syphilis or chickenpox in mothers)
  • Lack of oxygen in the womb before, during or after the birthing process
  • Low birth weight, less than 5.5 lbs.
  • Premature birth
  • Prolapsed umbilical cord when the cord wraps around a baby’s neck and cuts off the child’s oxygen supply
  • Additionally, medical professionals can prevent the brain damage that causes cerebral palsy by performing emergency C-sections as soon as the baby’s heart rate begins to dramatically change or any other signs of distress arise.

When is it Malpractice?

Some examples of medical malpractice by doctors or nurses that may result in birth injuries such as cerebral palsy include:

  • Overuse of Pitocin (see more details below)
  • Excessive use of vacuum extraction
  • Failure to perform an emergency C-section when one is obviously needed
  • Failure to diagnose and treat a baby’s lack of oxygen, meningitis and/or seizures
  • Failure to diagnose and treat a mother’s high blood pressure, toxemia or infections
  • Failure to diagnose and treat a prolapsed umbilical cord
  • Failure to recognize and treat heart rate changes in the mother or baby
  • Improper use of forceps
  • Cerebral Palsy and the Risks of Induced Labor from Pitocin

You’re in labor. You’ve been waiting for hours. Your doctor suggests Pitocin to speed up the contractions. What are the risks?

Pitocin is the brand name given to a synthesized form of oxytocin, a hormone naturally produced by a woman’s body when she goes into labor. When an infant is overdue or labor is taking a dangerously long time, using Pitocin to induce labor can be lifesaving. Unfortunately, its misuse can be extremely hazardous for mothers and infants alike.

When the synthetic hormone is injected into a woman’s body, it is supposed to result in uterine contractions and may initiate labor, speed up slow labor or stop bleeding after the baby is born. While Pitocin is generally effective in assisting with the labor process, it does carry some significant risks, especially if there is excessive use of this hormone.

Even in the best case scenarios, though, this can make childbirth much more painful for the mother.

Unfortunately, increased pain is not the only risk of Pitocin. As with all drugs, it is impossible to predict exactly how it will affect any individual person. Fetal monitoring is critical when the mother is given Pitocin. The mother must also be monitored to identify any complications. If the hospital staff fails to do so, the mother may experience dangerous side effects.

One widely recognized side effect of the improper use of Pitocin is that of uterine hyper stimulation. When uterine hyper stimulation occurs as a result of the excessive use of Pitocin, the uterine muscles will contract too frequently or otherwise will not relax between contractions. Possible side effects of uterine hyper-stimulation include threats to the mother and child, such as:

  • Fetal oxygen deprivation caused by decreased blood flow or prolonged contractions
  • Placental abruption
  • Uterine rupture
  • Cervical lacerations
  • Internal hemorrhaging for the mother
  • Fetal distress
  • Complications like these can cause long-lasting injury to the child, including brain damage due to oxygen deprivation, cerebral palsy, musculoskeletal injuries, and death.

If the hospital staff is following the standards of care, the risks of Pitocin can be managed. However, even small mistakes and failing to respond quickly can be enough to cause severe and permanent harm to the baby.

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