baby with cerebral palsy caused by maternal infectionsCerebral palsy is a group of closely related neurological disorders characterized by damage to a fetus or infant’s brain. People with cerebral palsy may not develop regular muscle tone and often struggle to control their movement and posture. Cerebral palsy is usually caused by damage to the brain before birth. However, physician negligence and medical malpractice could also contribute to the development of cerebral palsy. If a doctor, nurse, or other medical professional fails to respond and your child is diagnosed with cerebral palsy caused by maternal infections, they not only put the mother’s life and the child’s health at risk, but they can and should be held accountable. Our Louisville medical malpractice lawyer will do just that.

Maternal Infections and Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is often, but not always, caused by oxygen deprivation before, during, or shortly after birth. However, infections and diseases could also cause the disorder.

Infections that can cause cerebral palsy include:

  • Toxoplasmosis. This condition could develop if a person is infected with the parasite Toxoplasma gondii. Toxoplasma parasites can spread to most warm-blooded mammals. This non-communicable disease is transmitted through contaminated food and soil, as well as the feces of infected cats. Toxoplasmosis diagnoses are most common in developing countries. However, many Americans are still at risk.
  • Rubella. Sometimes called “German Measles,” rubella may start with a rash, fever, and sore throat. Left untreated, rubella usually resolves within a matter of days. However, rubella could infect an unborn child and cause irreversible neurocognitive damage.
  • Chickenpox. Expecting mothers who have not been vaccinated against chickenpox or who never contracted chickenpox as a child could pass the disease on to their baby.
  • Cytomegalovirus. This common virus can cause flu-like symptoms and illness. Most adults are infected with cytomegalovirus, or CMV, before the age of 40. While CMV does not pose a significant health risk to most healthy adults, a woman who suffers her first active cytomegalovirus infection during pregnancy should visit a physician immediately.
  • Herpes. Different strains of herpes, including those that are transmitted through sexual contact, can be transmitted from the mother to the child during pregnancy. Once herpes has been passed to an unborn infant, the disease could affect the womb and placenta.
  • Syphilis. This sexually transmitted disease can cause bacterial infections and stunt an unborn baby’s neurocognitive development.

When a Maternal Infection Could Be Medical Malpractice

Most maternal infections arise naturally and cannot be avoided.

However, hospitals, physicians, and other healthcare staff have a legal duty to act in the best interests of their patients. When a doctor, nurse, or physician’s assistant is inattentive, reckless, or otherwise negligent, they could commit medical malpractice.

Medical malpractice could occur when a physician:

  • Violates standards of care. Healthcare professionals are bound by federal- and state-level laws that dictate how they should respond to certain situations. The law recognizes that some procedures and treatments are considered “acceptable” and “effective” by most medical professionals. If a physician does not provide reasonable, prudent treatment, then they may be committing medical malpractice.
  • Acts negligently and causes injury. A physician could violate standards of care without committing medical malpractice. An injured patient must establish that a healthcare professional’s negligence caused their injury and that the injury would not have been sustained in the absence of such negligence.
  • The injury resulted in damages. Any medical malpractice claimant must show that a physician’s negligence caused significant damages. 

The legal definition of medical malpractice means that a physician cannot always be held accountable for maternal infections and any resulting cerebral palsy if they acted prudently and responded to an emergent or late-stage infection reasonably and in accordance with the recognized standards of their profession.

However, when doctors violate established standards of care and fail to remedy serious concerns about a mother or unborn child’s well-being, they could be liable for significant damages.

Common Examples of Cerebral Palsy Caused By Medical Malpractice

Physicians can make many mistakes that could be categorized as medical malpractice and may cause or contribute to a cerebral palsy condition. They include:

  • Failure to diagnosis an illness, or misdiagnosis of an illness
  • Failing to order the appropriate tests to investigate a patient’s complaints
  • Failing to recognize symptoms of conditions and diseases that a healthcare provider could be expected to recognize
  • Misreading, ignoring, or discarding laboratory results
  • Prescribing improper medication or prescribing too much medication
  • Neglecting a patient’s medical history

The Costs of Cerebral Palsy

A cerebral palsy diagnosis can be devastating. While cerebral palsy can affect children in very different ways, the condition is characterized by serious neurocognitive and physical impairments such as:

  • Stiff muscles
  • Exaggerated or uncoordinated reflexes
  • Irregular variations in muscle tone
  • Lack of balance
  • Motor coordination problems
  • Unusual or unnatural gait
  • Posture-related problems
  • Difficulty speaking, eating, or swallowing
  • Learning disabilities
  • Intellectual impairment
  • Seizures

Some people who have cerebral palsy can still attend school, get a job, and live relatively ordinary lives. However, most people with cerebral palsy cannot live completely independent lives. Researchers believe that the lifetime costs of cerebral palsy can approach or even exceed $1 million.

Protecting Your Child’s Rights After a Cerebral Palsy Diagnosis

If your child was diagnosed with cerebral palsy after suffering a birth infection the physician failed to properly diagnose or treat, you could be entitled to significant compensation through an insurance claim or medical malpractice lawsuit.

However, securing the damages you and your child need can be difficult. Even if a negligent healthcare provider does not have their own lawyer, their insurance provider almost certainly has an army of attorneys on standby. These lawyers often do not do anything except handle medical malpractice and birth infection claims. They will do everything in their power to either reduce the value of your claim or deny you compensation outright.

You stand your best chance of a successful legal recovery when you have a skilled professional on your side.

However, you have to act fast: Kentucky does not allow the parents of a child with cerebral palsy to file an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit years after they suspect malpractice caused their child’s cerebral palsy. This is because the state has a strict statute of limitations. If you wait too long to take action, the court will automatically dismiss your claim, and you will lose your chance at a fair settlement.

Contact Our Louisville Medical Malpractice Lawyer for a Free Case Review

You do not have to bear the massive costs associated with cerebral palsy by yourself. Gray & White Law specializes in birth injury and medical malpractice claims. We have helped our clients secure millions of dollars in damages from negligent physicians, reckless healthcare professionals, and their insurance companies.

We can help you, too: send us a message online today to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.

Matthew L. White
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Founder & Partner of Louisville Personal Injury Law Firm Gray & White Law