Researchers question underlying cause of cerebral palsy

A new study has found that cerebral palsy occurs mostly due to prenatal factors such as birth defects rather than birth asphyxia and other potential causes often thought to be responsible.

The research was published in the September 3 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. Researchers from the National Institutes of Health and the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., examined the root causes of cerebral palsy in single-birth infants born at or after a 35-week gestation period. The category accounts for two-thirds of newborns with the condition.

The study’s authors noted that over 80 percent of cerebral palsy cases can be linked to birth defects and other major prenatal factors including placental conditions, fetal growth restriction and genetic aspects. Fewer than 10 percent of diagnoses are due to asphyxia during labor and delivery. They also called for more in-depth research into genetics and developmental neuroscience to gain a better understanding of the condition.

The results indicate that birth defects play a more significant role in cerebral palsy than birth injuries. However, thousands of newborns each year suffer birth injuries — including cerebral palsy — due to medical negligence during the labor and delivery process. Failure to order a timely Caesarian section delivery, insufficient fetal monitoring and improper administration of induction drugs are among the incidents that can lead to serious birth trauma in babies.

It is important to note that determining fault can be more complicated than it might seem. If your child was injured and you believe someone else is fully or partially to blame, contact Chalik & Chalik to learn more about your rights.