The Causes of Cerebral Palsy and Birth Asphyxia
Birth injuries, especially those affecting the brain of a child, can be incredibly traumatic. A child with birth injuries may need years of therapy, medical treatment, specialized equipment, around-the-clock nurse care, or other special requirements. The cost and emotional strain on parents can be debilitating without help. According to a report published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, major birth injuries to the brain or birth injuries that result in death are thankfully uncommon. However, this doesn't diminish the needs of families to know what to expect or hold medical professionals responsible for their actions.
Congenital Cerebral Palsy
According to the CDC, there are two types of cerebral palsy classified by cause: congenital and acquired. Acquired Cerebral Palsy is caused by a brain injury suffered more than 28 days after birth. Congenital Cerebral Palsy, however, is caused by brain damage suffered either during pregnancy or during the process of birth itself. This is by far the more common form of Cerebral Palsy, accounting for 85 to 90 percent of cases. Most of the risk factors the CDC notes are related to low birth weight, premature birth, or the health of the mother during pregnancy. These are taken into consideration when trying to find a cause for a child’s Cerebral Palsy, which often could have been prevented.
One major birth-related cause of Cerebral Palsy noted by the CDC is the disruption of oxygen supply to the child during birth. They note that this can be caused by “[d]etachment of the placenta, uterine rupture, or problems with the umbilical cord during birth.” These issues are sometimes obvious, but one doctor named George Malcolm Morley essentially built his career on arguing for a more common, and less commonly attributed, cause of birth asphyxiation: umbilical cord clamping. In numerous papers across his career, such as Neonatal Resuscitation: Life that Failed and A Refutation of ACOG’s Report on Cerebral Palsy, he notes that during and shortly after birth, the respiratory function of the baby runs through the umbilical cord to the placenta. He argues that clamping the umbilical cord too early functionally amputates the child’s only working source of oxygen and more than 30-50 percent of the baby’s total blood volume. This puts the child into a state of asphyxia until the lungs take over, and the lack of adequate blood supply may hinder resuscitation attempts on a newborn showing higher than normal difficulty. Morley spent his career arguing against clamping the umbilical cord until it has finished its function and has closed naturally, a move he believed would reduce the number of birth-related brain injuries.
The actual causes of individual cases vary heavily, to the point that the CDC page claims that the cause in most cases is simply unknown. We find this unacceptable and work hard at getting answers for families, working with professionals in related fields and digging deep into medical practices and records. If your child was the victim of a birth injury, contact Tyrone Law Firm, PC for a free consultation to find out how we can help you.