Why does your child have cerebral palsy? The simplest answer to this question is because your child has brain damage. This leads naturally into the second question: Why does your child have brain damage? There are many possible answers to this second question, because there are many causes and reasons children can sustain brain damage. Your doctor must carefully review your child’s health history and conduct a variety of medical and neurological tests to help determine the cause.
Cerebral palsy is caused by an injury to the brain before, during, or shortly after birth. In many cases, no one knows for sure what caused the brain injury or what may have been done to prevent the injury. A large number of factors which can injure the developing brain may produce cerebral palsy. In general, however, there are two problems that can cause cerebral palsy:
Whatever the cause of your child’s cerebral palsy, the severity of the brain damage generally depends on the type and timing of the injury. For example, in very premature babies, bleeding into the brain (intraventricular hemorrhage) can cause extensive damage. Also, the longer an unborn child goes without oxygen, the greater the extent of brain tissue damage.
Ten to fifteen percent of cerebral palsy is caused from a recognized brain injury, such as infection (like meningitis), bleeding into the brain, and damage caused by lack of oxygen. It is very important that you understand that a brain injury caused during delivery in many cases could have been prevented. Medical mistakes are responsible for thousands and thousands of cerebral palsy cases. It would be virtually impossible for a parent, on their own, to determine if a medical mistake caused their child’s cerebral palsy or brain damage. It is only through the concerted efforts of a legal/medical team that can answer the question, “was my child’s cerebral palsy preventable?”