Pre-term birth and the risk of Cerebral Palsy

According to recent studies, about two or three out of every 1,000 children is diagnosed with cerebral palsy (CP) and approximately 500,000 children and adults are currently living with the condition nationwide. One cause of CP is premature birth. Babies who weigh less than 3 1/3 pounds are 30 times more likely to develop CP than babies who are delivered full term. Typically, the babies suffer bleeding in the brain, which can damage delicate brain tissue. 


Around 15 million babies in the world are born prematurely each year, and while survival rates have improved there is still a risk of developing a lifelong disability such as CP (Finch-Edmondson et al, 2019). Diagnosis of brain injury at birth is difficult, and in some cases an important window of healing may be missed. Finch-Edmonson and colleagues set out to review current and emerging interventions for pre-term infants with CP.  


A diagnosis of CP may not be apparent with current standard protocols. While a cranial ultrasound is widely used to screen for brain injury, around one third of preterm CP patients may not have the lesions identified by this method. MRI is a more sensitive tool to detect damage, however it is not always accessible for routine use. The use of imaging together with assessment tools may allow for CP to be identified in infants as young as 12 weeks instead of the standard 12-24 month diagnosis. This early diagnosis could lead to early interventions in pre-term infants.


The authors of the studies go on to outline many promising interventions for brain injury in pre-term infants. “Encouragingly, there are numerous emerging biological, pharmacological, and rehabilitation interventions for the prevention, minimization, and even reversal of preterm brain injury (Finch-Edmondson et al, 2019)”. While there is still much to be studied, there are many avenues being explored regarding this widespread disability. 


If you believe a doctor’s error caused your child to develop cerebral palsy, either before or during delivery, you may be eligible to receive financial compensation, and the legal team of Holton Law Firm wants to help. Contact us today by calling 888-443-4387 and schedule your consultation to speak with an attorney about your situation. 

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