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Can Cerebral Palsy be Prevented at Birth?

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Is cerebral palsy preventable? It is one of the most common questions parents and caregivers ask after their child is diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Unfortunately, there is no absolutely effective way to prevent cerebral palsy. However, there are steps your doctor can take before and during birth to prevent injuries and complications that place your child at increased risk for developing cerebral palsy. Find out more about cerebral palsy risk factors and methods for preventing cerebral palsy at birth in this article.

Cerebral palsy is the leading motor disability among children in the United States. Among those diagnosed with cerebral palsy, there are a host of symptoms that vary based on the location in the brain affected, the extent of the damage, and the point at which the brain damage occurred. Due to the delicacy of the birthing process, many children suffer trauma during labor and delivery that results in cerebral palsy. This is why it is so important for doctors to know the risk factors for birth trauma and to take appropriate measures to prevent these injuries during childbirth.

Infection Diagnosis and Treatment

The first thing a doctor can do for cerebral palsy prevention is to conduct prenatal testing and diligently monitor the mother throughout pregnancy. Identifying maternal infection as soon as possible and initiating immediate treatment is critical to prevent the infection from being transmitted to the developing fetus. When a child develops an infection in the womb or contracts it from the mother when exiting the birth canal, it places them at greater risk for developing neurological conditions such as cerebral palsy.

Preventing Head Trauma

There are numerous ways in which a child can suffer head trauma during birth. Tragically, head trauma and associated brain damage can be a precursor for cerebral palsy. It is critical for doctors to use all of the scientific advances at their disposal to prevent head trauma whenever possible. For example, in cases involving larger than average babies (fetal macrosomia), or those in which the baby does not fit through the birth canal (cephalopelvic disproportion or CPD), doctors may need to perform a C-section to ensure safe delivery. In other situations, such as those involving abnoraml birth presentation, ultrasound and imaging tests can be used to identify the baby’s position and make adjustments accordingly. The most important thing is to ensure the baby’s brain and nerves are not adversely affected during birth. When head trauma occurs, the brain can suffer irreversible harm that manifests in the form of cerebral palsy.

Avoiding Lack of Oxygen

Ensuring your baby is never deprived of oxygen is among the chief concerns during labor and delivery. If a child experiences lack of oxygen, even for a few seconds or minutes, brain cells can die. When cell death occurs in the brain, functional impairments such as those in cerebral palsy may be the ultimate outcome. Fortunately, medical technology allows for monitoring fetal heart rate throughout the birth process. In other words, doctors and nurses can keep track of the baby’s heart rate and respond if fetal distress occurs. Fetal distress is likely a sign that the child is having trouble getting enough oxygen. This is an emergency situation that must be addressed properly to prevent brain damage and cerebral palsy.

Treating Newborn Jaundice

Jaundice is another condition that increases cerebral palsy risk. The primary symptom of jaundice is yellow-tinged skin color.  The underlying cause of jaundice is an accumulation of bilirubin, a substance produced as waste when the body breaks down red blood cells. Typically, bilirubin is taken out of the bloodstream through the liver and then transported to the intestine to be execreted in the stool. In some newborns, the liver cannot filter out and remove the bilirubin quickly enough, which leads to jaundice.

Some infants experience jaundice and suffer no long-term consequences. In fact, it is relatively common and particularly so in premature babies. However, severe jaundice can result in a serious condition known as kernicterus. This secondary condition occurs when jaundice leads to a build up of bilirubin in the blood, which then travels to the brain. When bilirubin-filled blood reaches the brain, it can lead to permanent brain damage and conditions like cerebral palsy. Clearly, diagnosis and treatment of newborn jaundice is essential for the prevention of cerebral palsy.

Was Your Child’s Cerebral Palsy Preventable at Birth?

If you suspect your child’s cerebral palsy resulted from preventable birth injury, you have rights and legal options. Our experienced New Jersey cerebral palsy attorneys fight for the compensation birth injury victims and their families deserve. We know the costs associated with caring for a child with cerebral palsy, which are compounded by the emotional and mental cost to the victim’s loved ones. With that in mind, we dedicate ourselves to achieving maximum recoveries for birth injury victims throughout New Jersey. For additional information and a free consultation about remedies available to cerebral palsy victims, contact us online or call (866)-708-8617 today.

Resources:

Infant Jaundice, Medical News Today

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