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What causes cerebral palsy?

Cerebral palsy is a general term covering a number of neurological conditions which can affect a person’s movement and coordination. It is caused by brain damage usually sustained at around the time of birth and whilst a child’s brain is still developing.

There are a number of causes of that brain damage, including:

  • Hypoxia, ie starvation of oxygen to the brain
  • Encephalitis, usually caused by infection
  • Traumatic injury, for example due to an amniocentesis needle injury or the misuse of forceps
  • Vascular conditions, ie a problem with the blood supply to the brain
  • Tumours
  • Toxicity, ie poisoning with medication or naturally occurring substances
  • Hydrocephalus, when fluid builds up in the brain.

Brain damage resulting from the above may have been caused or contributed to by poor medical management or a mistake which could have been avoided if appropriate care had been taken.

We have handled claims relating to babies being brain damaged in various circumstances, including in the ante natal period when, for example, there may be a complication such as pre-eclampsia or injury during an amniocentesis test; during labour where there is oxygen deprivation to the new-born baby; during and following a caesarean section, or following forceps or vacuum delivery; or because of the care given to a baby in a neonatal unit, when an infection or other problem may be missed.

Our lawyers are specialists in the fields of claims arising from brain damage as a result of the above causes and can help if you believe your child acquired a brain injury or cerebral palsy due to:

  • A poorly conducted amniocentesis procedure, or any other ante natal investigation
  • You receiving negligent ante-natal care;
  • Your labour and delivery being badly managed; or
  • Your baby not being properly cared for after birth

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Cerebral palsy affects 1 in 10,000 births in the United Kingdom today. Only a very small number of children found to have cerebral palsy will have that disability as a result of the negligent management of their mother's ante-natal treatment, the mishandling of labour or negligent neonatal care.

If you think that your labour was mismanaged, that the delivery of your baby was negligent, or that the ante-natal care or your baby was substandard and your child has cerebral palsy, you and your child may have a claim for compensation.

Our specialist obstetric litigation lawyers have also acted successfully for clients where pre-natal genetic tests have been misdiagnosed, and damage has been caused to the baby during an amniocentesis investigation.

Our specialist brain injury lawyers have also brought many successful claims as a result of failures in the period after birth, for example, when medical staffs have failed to realise and take steps to treat a child who is seriously ill.

The medical accident team at Leigh Day has successfully concluded hundreds of successful settlements for brain-injured babies. Our cerebral palsy lawyers have a deep understanding of the needs of families living with disabled children. Birth injury claims can be very challenging and raise complex medical issues which can only be addressed by specialist cerebral palsy lawyers. We have unrivalled experience in providing you with the best legal advice and client support throughout your claim.

Read our guide to brain injury at birth for parents