Lack of Oxygen at Birth May Cause Athetoid Cerebral Palsy April 3, 2010.

Giving birth is dangerous and if the doctor isn’t watching carefully, the baby may suffer. Lack of oxygen at birth may cause cerebral palsy.

"The most common form of birth injury to babies may come in the form of three different kinds of palsy that develop over time: spastic cerebral palsy, athetoid (dyskinetic) cerebral palsy, and ataxic cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy usually is diagnosed by 3 years of age. Roughly 800,000 children and adults in the US have cerebral palsy," explained birth injury lawyer Christopher Mellino in Cleveland, Ohio.

Roughly 80% of those with palsy have spastic cerebral palsy, which simply means the muscles are stiff and movement is difficult. Within this category is spastic diplegia that affects both legs and causes the individual to walk with a scissor-like movement. Spastic hemiplegia affects one side of the body, usually one arm more severely than the involved leg. Spastic quadriplegia affects all four limbs, the face and trunk. These children can’t walk, are usually mentally retarded and subject to seizures, and have difficulty talking.

"Approximately 10% of people have athetoid cerebral palsy which presents in varied muscle tone, from too tight to too loose, causing uncontrolled movements ranging from writhing to jerky. Most children with this form of palsy are not able to sit or walk properly and may have trouble swallowing and speaking," added Mellino.

Lastly, ataxic cerebral palsy affects roughly 10% of people who will have trouble with coordination and balancing and have trouble with certain motions needing precise coordination like coloring, writing or creating something.

Risk factors for babies to develop cerebral palsy include whether or not they are prematurely delivered, their mother had an infection during pregnancy, enough oxygen reached the fetus during pregnancy, blooding clotting diseases, severe jaundice, and asphyxia (lack of oxygen) during delivery."Interestingly enough, it was widely thought that the most frequent cause of cerebral palsy was lack of oxygen during birth. Recent studies have shown that birth asphyxia only contributes to 5% to 10% of cases of cerebral palsy," Mellino commented.

Caring for a child with cerebral palsy is an enormous expense, as their care means special equipment and tools. "It isn’t uncommon for the cost to be in the millions over a period of time, which is why, if your child has suffered birth injuries in a hospital that do result in cerebral palsy, that the damage award will likely be higher to include a child’s future income, pain and suffering, and medical treatments and special equipment that aids the child to live a reasonably normal life," said Mellino. Health insurance and Medicaid don’t provide for these kinds of needs.

Some of the costs parents of children with cerebral palsy incur include a wheelchair with an adaptive seat ($3,500 – $10,000), a prone stander ($1,000 – $5,000), communication system to help them communicate (up to $4,000), and a special van to take the child places (up to $25,000).

If you have questions about filing a cerebral palsy claim, attorney Chris Mellino welcomes you to contact our Cleveland office for a free consultation.