Cerebral Palsy: Origins and Information

Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder that affects, on average, about 3 infants per 1000 births.

The incidents and symptoms of cerebral palsy are ever-present, but it wasn't until Dr. Walter Osner published his landmark paper entitled "The Cerebral Palsies of Children" in 1889 that the disorder came to be known by its present name. Remarkably, the rate of children born with cerebral palsy is stable across cultures and has grown, albeit slightly, over the last 100 years. Whether the increases in the incidents of cerebral palsy are a result of new medical policies, procedures, and guidelines, an increase in the use of induction with oxytocin or Pitocin, new technologies that have allowed previously unviable neonates to survive birth trauma, or the increasing number of actual diagnoses is not known.

It affects all of the following elements of a child's life:

  • Movements
  • Speech
  • Vision
  • Hearing
  • Tone
  • Other physical and neurological areas of a child's life

We do know that cerebral palsy affects premature children at a much higher rate than those born at full-term. The effects of trauma to the brain on extremely young infants, who do not have the neural protections available to even full-term neonates, are pronounced, and this can explain the high percentage of cerebral palsy across this population.

Brain Injury

A great overview of the signs and symptoms, medical terminology, causes, and history can be found in a BMJ article written by Charlie Fairhurst and published in September, 2011 entitled "Cerebral Palsy: The Whys and Hows".

One major cause of cerebral palsy is birth injury. Overuse of Pitocin can cause dangerously strong contractions during labor, cutting off oxygen to a child’s brain in utero, which can have lifelong effects, including cerebral palsy. Furthermore, when a child experiences a difficulty delivery, including birth depression, passing of terminal meconium, and the need for either vacuum delivery, forceps delivery, or emergency C-section, the rates of cerebral palsy go up dramatically.

According to studies, about 1 in 664 babies delivered via forceps suffers a birth injury. Among babies delivered via vacuum assisted vaginal delivery, the rate is 1 in 860. Some clues that a child has experienced such an injury include meconium at birth, blue skin color, very low or very high heart rates, inability to breathe without resuscitation, seizures, and a floppy, rag-doll or very rigid muscle tone just after birth.

If you suspect that your child was a victim of a birth injury, it may be a good idea to contact a Chicago birth injury attorney. Beam Legal Team has obtained some of the largest verdicts in the United States as advocates for children with cerebral palsy and their families. We are cerebral palsy attorneys, with the understanding and experience to effectively advocate for your child.

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