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August 16, 2019


One of the most devastating and lifelong injuries a baby can suffer in utero is oxygen deprivation. Being deprived of oxygen at any point during pregnancy, labor, or delivery can result in significant brain damage and long-term disabilities. This damage can result in a condition known as cerebral palsy, which can cause in lifelong motor disabilities.

What is Cerebral Palsy?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that cerebral palsy affects nearly 4 out of every 1,000 live births.

Cerebral palsy occurs when the brain has been so significantly damaged that it affects a person’s ability to control their muscles. This can result in significant impairment throughout their lives.

The symptoms of cerebral palsy can vary in severity person to person.  The most common symptoms include:

  • Poor muscle tone
  • Postural abnormalities
  • Inability to sit or walk unsupported
  • Difficulties with fine motor skills
  • Muscle spasticity
  • cognitive disabilities
  • Epilepsy or seizure disorders
  • Speech and language issues
  • Vision and hearing impairments
  • Sensory processing issues

The Center for Disease Control estimates that the total lifetime cost to care for a baby with cerebral palsy is over $1 million. Medical costs alone for children with cerebral palsy were more than 10x higher than medical costs for children without cerebral palsy. When a child has both cerebral palsy and an intellectual disability, that cost soars to as much as 26x higher than for children without those disabilities.

What is HIE?

Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) is one of the most common causes of cerebral palsy in the world.

Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy  is a type of newborn brain damage that is caused by significant oxygen deprivation and diminished blood flow.  HIE is estimated to occur in up to 9 out of every 1,000 live births. In one major study, nearly half of all newborns with HIE either die or have major neurodevelopmental delays by 18 months. However, 40% of all babies had normal early development.

What are the Causes of HIE?

When a baby is born, the full extent of the damage from HIE is not always apparent. It can take months before doctors and parents begin to notice significant developmental delays or muscular concerns. By then, it can be difficult for parents to clearly establish what traumatic event caused their baby’s birth injury.

HIE can be caused by medical negligence during pregnancy or the labor and delivery process. Some of the most common causes of HIE include:

  • Mismanagement of a high-risk pregnancy
  • Inadequate fetal or maternal monitoring
  • Umbilical cord complications
  • Failure to prevent premature birth
  • Failure to perform an emergency c-section
  • Failure to diagnose a breech delivery or at-risk delivery
  • Allowing prolonged labor to continue
  • Medication mistakes
  • Mismanagement of neonatal issues

Cerebral Palsy, HIE & Medical Malpractice

As many as 10,000 children are diagnosed with varying degrees of cerebral palsy every single year. Some of these cases were caused by a preventable medical error during pregnancy or the labor and delivery process. When a doctor or medical professional’s negligence led to your child’s brain injury, it is important to retain the services of a law firm with extensive experience.

Healthcare professionals are required to satisfy a standard of care for their patients. When they deviate from that standard, serious and fatal injuries can occur. Families whose children have suffered from HIE or cerebral palsy should speak to an experienced birth injury lawyer as soon as possible to determine if medical malpractice has occurred.

Contact Our Providence Birth Injury Lawyers Today

If your baby suffered HIE after a birth injury and was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, we can help. At Mandell, Boisclair & Mandell, Ltd, our Providence birth injury lawyers know that families whose children suffer from a devastating brain injury during labor and delivery often need extensive assistance caring for their children throughout their lives.

We offer compassionate, yet aggressive, legal assistance every step of the way after a devastating birth injury. Call us today at 401-204-1610 or fill out our confidential contact form for a free initial consultation and review of your case.