A pregnancy is a joyful time and every mother wants hers to go as smoothly as possible. One of the diagnostic tests performed during pregnancy is an ultrasound which provides the obstetrician an opportunity to review the health and growth of the baby. An ultrasound can detect many problems that can occur in utero. The chance that an ultrasound will discover cerebral palsy, however, is fairly low.
What Is Cerebral Palsy and How Is it Caused?
Cerebral palsy is a group of disorders that impacts a child’s motor functioning and intellect. Normally, cerebral palsy develops after a brain injury or malformation that occurs when the child’s brain is forming. If there is an issue with the formation of the brain, it can have an effect on muscle control, coordination and tone as well as reflexes, posture or balance. Because each instance of cerebral palsy is unique, the symptoms can vary widely.
Cerebral palsy is usually diagnosed in the months after the child is born and it could take as much as a year for a complete diagnosis. It is difficult to diagnose cerebral palsy during pregnancy as the causes of the disorder usually occur during the birth process.
Risk of Cerebral Palsy During Pregnancy
There are some risk factors that could lead to a child developing cerebral palsy during pregnancy. If you contract a bacterial, viral or parasitic infection, there is a risk it could harm both you and your unborn child. It is possible for a mother to pass an infection to the child through the myometrium of the uterus. Some of the infections that need to be addressed immediately include:
- Rubella, also known as German measles
- Urinary tract infections
An infection can lead to a fever and the rise in temperature could cause damage to the developing brain.
Jaundice, Diabetes and Hypertension
Your liver produces a substance known as bilirubin and when it produces too much, you can become jaundiced. Bilirubin can pass to your child and may be toxic to brain cells. If you have diabetes or high blood pressure, you are at a higher risk of a difficult delivery. With a difficult delivery, there is a higher risk of complications that may result in damage to your child’s brain.
How to Prevent Cerebral Palsy
Your doctor is responsible for your care during your pregnancy and delivery. If your doctor does not address an infection properly and your child develops cerebral palsy, they may be guilty of negligence. If you have liver disease, high blood pressure or diabetes, your doctor should provide information on how to keep those illnesses in check during your pregnancy.
Unfortunately, because it is difficult to diagnose cerebral palsy during pregnancy, you may not find out about the diagnosis until they are in school if the case is mild. If they are diagnosed later, there are treatment options that can improve quality of life for children
Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy
There are common symptoms of cerebral palsy that you can look for. If your child is already 6 months old, look for these specific signs of cerebral palsy:
- Abnormal reflexes
- Abnormal posture
- Difficulty swallowing
- Floppiness or rigidity of limbs and trunk
- Impaired movement
- Involuntary movements
- Reduced range of motion
- Unfocused eyes
- Unsteady walking
The severity of cerebral palsy varies greatly among each person. There are some with the disorder who can walk while others may need to use crutches, walkers, or wheelchairs. It is possible for someone with cerebral palsy to have normal intellect while others may have intellectual disabilities. It is also common for someone with cerebral palsy to have seizures, blindness or deafness.
If your child shows signs of cerebral palsy or they have been recently diagnosed and you believe it was caused by negligence, contact our office to arrange for a no obligation consultation to see what rights you may have.