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Study Pre-term birth preeclampsia linked to cerebral palsy risk

The Becker Law Firm, LPA

Missteps by physicians during delivery sometimes lead to birth injuries, including cerebral palsy, here in Ohio. Cerebral palsy is a type of brain damage that affects motor skills, and the condition is usually lifelong. Cerebral palsy is a very complex condition, but it sometimes is the result of a traumatic brain injury suffered during labor or the deprivation of oxygen during labor.

A recent study has found that premature and small babies may be at a higher risk of cerebral palsy, specifically when mothers have preeclampsia. As a result, the study’s authors have suggested that doctors make a special note of any signs that an infant may be smaller than normal if the mother has preeclampsia.

Up to 5 percent of pregnant women suffer from preeclampsia, which is a condition that involves high blood pressure and protein in urine.

In this study, researchers reviewed data regarding almost 700,000 children who were born in Norway between 1996 and 2006. The researchers found that children who were born preterm, and who were smaller at birth, and had mothers who had preeclampsia, were much more likely to have cerebral palsy than those children who were born at full-term to mothers with preeclampsia.

Other factors such as the sex of the child, the mother’s age, smoking during pregnancy and in vitro fertilization were all considered, and the researchers concluded that premature and smaller babies whose mothers have preeclampsia do have an increased risk of suffering from cerebral palsy.

It should be noted that the study did not establish that premature birth, low-birth weight and preeclampsia actually cause cerebral palsy, but just that together these factors increase the risk.

When mothers have higher risk pregnancies, such as when they have preeclampsia, it is important that their doctors are prepared to handle the pregnancy, labor and delivery in the best way possible. In some cases, physicians or hospitals are negligent–failing to meet the standards of care that are expected of them–and a birth injury results. When a child suffers due to a preventable birth injury, it may be wise for parents to seek legal counsel to learn about their rights.

Source: HealthDay.com, “Pregnancy Problem, Smaller Babies Tied to Cerebral Palsy Risk in Study,” July 10, 2013

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