Cerebral palsy is one of the most serious birth injuries that a child can experience. If the child loses access to oxygen, this can lead to brain damage. For example, if a doctor fails to notice that the umbilical cord is wrapped around the child’s neck, even if the eventual birth is a success, the child could have a life-altering injury due to the doctor’s negligence.
However, with many other types of injuries, you can identify them right away. For example, if a doctor improperly uses forceps and it leads to a fractured bone, that can be diagnosed and treated the same day, at the hospital. But cerebral palsy, despite being much more serious than a broken bone, is also going to take a lot longer to diagnose.
The problem is that cerebral palsy is, in many ways, a developmental disorder. Children who have it may not develop skills at the same rate as their peers. For instance, they may struggle to balance, walk and talk.
There can also be issues with muscle development that may lead to stiffness on one side of the body or trouble moving properly. For instance, some children will attempt to crawl with only one side of their body, which was unaffected.
But the reason that this takes a long time to diagnose is simply that children are going to hit these milestones at different times. Years will go by between the time the child is born and when they try to learn how to walk. If the only signifier that the parents have that something is wrong is that the child starts missing milestones, the parents naturally have to wait until those milestones should be occurring to notice the issue.
This often leads to parents who believe that their baby was not harmed during the birth, but substantial harm has actually been caused. It’s important both to understand how this happens and what signs to look for, and to know about all of the legal options that you have if this has happened to your child.