In recognition of National Brain Injury Awareness Month, throughout March our Chicago brain injury attorneys have focused on brain injuries, and their consequences and causes. As our coverage winds down, this week we take a look at some of the good news – recent advances in awareness and prevention of brain injuries.
Today, we take a look at cerebral palsy suffered at birth. Simply put, cerebral palsy is any one of a number of conditions caused by brain damage in the womb, during childbirth, or shortly after birth. These conditions are chronic, and prevent victims from controlling their muscles, and positioning and moving their bodies. The condition can be mild or severe, and often results in twitches, seizures, lack of control and coordination, and physical disability.
Cerebral palsy is the direct result of brain damage. This brain damage, in turn, can come about in a number of ways. But the most prevalent source is oxygen deprivation during childbirth, whether from leaving the infant too long in the birth canal, a physician’s failure to realize that the child is being choked by an umbilical cord wrapped around her neck, the over-use or incorrect use of vacuums and forceps, the failure to use a c-section in cases of fetal distress, or other delivery problems. Cerebral palsy at birth can arise from a doctor or other medical provider’s failure to promptly recognize and treat jaundice or seizures. It can also result from infection or bleeding in the brain after birth, particularly after a premature birth.
Now, a new study shows that the increasing awareness of cerebral palsy, and the steps being taken to prevent it, are having an effect – at least in babies born prematurely. The study, published in a recent edition of the Journal of Pediatrics, looked at premature infants born between 1990 and 2005. Promisingly, the rate of cerebral palsy in these babies declined by nearly 7% in the years between 2002 and 2005 (as compared to the rate present between 1990 and 2001). And the cases which did occur were generally less severe. The authors of the study attributed these declines (both in the number and severity of cases) to a decrease in white matter lesions in the brain.
The study was based on births in the Netherlands, which generally has better prenatal, birth and neonatal outcomes than the United States. But studies in the U.S. and Canada have also shown improvements in cerebral palsy rates, although not as impressive. Our birth injury attorneys would love to see the U.S., with its extensive resources, catch up with and surpass the Netherlands in these areas. No child should have to contend with the disability of cerebral palsy due to the negligence of his mother’s obstetrician, and no result but zero occurrences is truly acceptable. But in the meantime, we are thrilled with the advances being made.
For a Free Consultation with a top-rated cerebral palsy lawyer at Passen & Powell, call us at (312) 527-4500.