Complete prevention of cerebral palsy (CP) isn’t yet possible; however, there are measures parents can take to reduce the risk of CP. Before discussing possible prevention steps, it’s important to understand what CP is and who’s at risk.
What is cerebral palsy?
According to the CDC, CP is the most common childhood motor disability and studies based on world populations report that it ranges from an estimated “1.5 to more than 4 per 1,000 live births or children.”
CP is a disease in which people can’t control their muscles and is a result of the brain not developing normally. While it typically occurs in the womb, it can develop in early childhood as well. Unfortunately, doctors don’t completely understand why it happens, and there’s no cure at the moment.
What causes cerebral palsy?
CP can be caused by genes, but there are other triggers as well. According to WebMD, they include an infection in a pregnant mother that affects the baby, limited blood supply to the baby’s brain in the womb, drug or alcohol abuse during pregnancy, insufficient oxygen to the baby’s brain during childbirth, an infection in or near the infant’s brain that causes inflammation, or an accident or fall that injures the baby’s brain.
While these occurrences can trigger CP, there’s still no specific cause.
Reducing the risk of CP
There’s no magic formula or method to guarantee a healthy baby, but there are measures parents can take to reduce the risk of CP. The overarching preventive aim is doing everything you can to ensure a healthy pregnancy, which means making all efforts to focus on the care of the mother, physically and mentally, as well as the fetus.
A healthy mother gives her baby a better chance at being healthy as well. That’s why routine doctor visits are essential during pregnancy as a doctor can determine if there are any possible complications.
It’s also important for the mother to control health issues such as high blood pressure and diabetes. The mother should stay away from alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, and medications that can pose risks during pregnancy.
You should also identify if there’s a discrepancy in Rhesus factor (Rh) between the mother and child. Your doctor or OBGYN will typically recommend that you take an Rh factor test to see if you’re Rh positive or negative during your first visit. Being Rh negative is less common and means a person lacks a certain inherited protein that’s found on the surface of red blood cells. Those who are Rh negative have to be monitored more closely to see if they and their child’s blood types are incompatible, which may lead to an increased chance of CP. If this is the case, it may be determined that intervention, such as a blood transfusion, is necessary. This condition may impact the mother and baby during pregnancy, but it’s important to note that it doesn’t affect the mother’s general health.
After your baby is born, you can reduce the risk of CP by making sure your child is vaccinated for all common infant infections and by taking every opportunity to limit the chances of head injury.
Potential medical claims
While modern improvements and technology make it possible to ensure a safe delivery, it’s important that you’re receiving the proper monitoring and treatment. If you feel like you are not during any step of the process, then you should contact a medical malpractice attorney. Complete prevention of CP isn’t possible; however, if you believe a doctor or medical professional played a role in your child’s CP, you should take legal action at once.
While we mapped out risk factors of CP and steps to prevent it, we encourage you to speak with a medical professional for more details.