Paralysis at Birth

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The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke defines “palsy” as “paralysis, or the lack of control over voluntary movement.” About 10,000 babies are born with cerebral palsy (paralysis) each year and about 800,000 American children and adults battle one or more symptoms of this disease each year. One can only imagine how many Americans annually suffer from all of the various forms of paralysis that exist or are referenced here.

Infant Paralysis Causes

Here are some of the risk factors that raise a baby’s chances of developing some form of paralysis:

  • The mother was exposed to far too many toxic materials during her pregnancy;
  • The baby was born prematurely;
  • The afflicted child was one of multiple babies born during the same delivery;
  • The mother and child have incompatible blood types;
  • The infant had an unusually low birth weight;
  • The child was born (or initially presented) in the breech (feet first) position;
  • The baby was born to a mother who had mental retardation, a thyroid problem or a seizure disorder;
  • The baby had jaundice at birth.

Every baby born with one of the problems listed above will not develop a form of paralysis. However, competent doctors should recognize the risk factors ahead of time so that the child can receive immediate diagnostic care and treatment if some form does develop.

Facial Paralysis

Although it’s always tragic when a doctor causes any form of paralysis, at least some newborns who develop facial paralysis may outgrow it within the first few weeks of life. However, if forceps or some other tool caused serious facial paralysis, the child may require surgery and still be destined to a lifetime of permanent nerve damage. Those most seriously afflicted can even suffer nerve damage extending from the forehead to the chin.

Other Serious Forms of Paralysis

Children who are born with paraplegia are usually unable to experience feeling in their legs or control any leg movements. Infants who cannot experience any feeling in both their arms and legs (or control movements in any of them) are usually diagnosed with quadriplegia.

Long-term Prognosis for Paralysis Patients

Each case of paralysis is different and the outcomes vary extensively, depending on;

(1) how early the condition is properly diagnosed,

(2) how severe the condition is when initially detected and

(3) how soon treatment is begun.

Unfortunately, delivery room medical errors cause far too many newborns to develop some form of palsy or paralysis.

Filing an Infant Paralysis Lawsuit

Every parent of a newborn afflicted with paralysis is usually overcome with fears concerning the quality of life their child may one day be able to achieve. Yet at this difficult time, it’s critical for parents to carefully review all that happened during the prenatal care period and in the delivery room so they can determine if their doctor played any role in causing the paralysis.

Fortunately, most birth trauma lawyers have extensive experience helping families make such determinations by reviewing all of the pertinent medical records. If it appears that the doctor was not at fault, no lawsuit will be pursued. However, if there’s strong evidence that the doctor may have caused the child’s paralyzed condition, the family will be encouraged to pursue every appropriate legal remedy on their baby’s behalf. Long-term medical care for someone with paralysis can be very expensive. If a medical provider caused the condition, his (or her) medical malpractice insurance must cover the child’s future medical needs.