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Early Cerebral Palsy Evaluation Offers Greater Opportunity for Targeted Interventions

image of a baby and her parent's hands

Cerebral palsy can be the result of a birth injury or abnormal development during or after pregnancy, caused by infection, fetal or pediatric stroke, undiagnosed maternal health problems, premature birth, and asphyxia, allowing brain damage to occur before, during, or after childbirth. Health care providers may be responsible for a cerebral palsy injury or found negligent for a delay in providing the proper diagnosis, therapy, or treatment. The earlier children are diagnosed, the better their chances of access to treatments and evidence-based interventions. If not, cerebral palsy can cause a range of disabilities, from mild to severe.

A study led by the Cerebral Palsy Foundation and Nationwide Children’s Hospital found that U.S. hospitals average an age of about 2 years at diagnosis, compared to the target of 12 months of age or younger. Along with four other institutions (UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital, Los Angeles; the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston; University of Utah Health, Salt Lake City; and Kennedy Krieger Institute, Baltimore), Nationwide Children’s Hospital developed international guidelines to implement a clinical time-to-diagnosis to reduce the age of a cerebral palsy diagnosis. The 2017 guidelines involve the support of neonatologists, developmental pediatricians, therapists, and other developmental specialists, but they also rely heavily on neurologists.

Nearly three years later, the groups say their efforts have “resulted in an average decrease of 10 months in time-to-diagnosis and have demonstrated the practicality and effectiveness of the guidelines for improving age at diagnosis—a key requirement for early interventions, which can improve CP-related developmental outcomes substantially.”

The Downside of an Important Cerebral Palsy Breakthrough

Not all providers are implementing the guidelines in their birth injury diagnosis or cerebral palsy treatment programs, and many more still require training before starting an early detection and intervention program for cerebral palsy. While we wait for providers to join Nationwide and others in helping diagnose infants and children with cerebral palsy sooner, we must also remember that the condition can be caused by a preventable error made during labor or delivery and other pregnancy complications. If a medical mistake caused cerebral palsy, families could take legal action to receive the compensation necessary to cover any losses including, medical expenses, ongoing treatment, rehabilitation, and care.

Chicago, Illinois Birth Injury Law Firm

When a birth injury occurs because of negligence, the physician, health system, or medical staff responsible should be held accountable. If your child was seriously hurt due to medical negligence during pregnancy or at the time of childbirth, request a free consultation with a member of the experienced birth injury legal team at Levin & Perconti. Call 312-332-2872 or toll-free at 877-374-1417.

Source: Nathalie L. Maitre et al, Network Implementation of Guideline for Early Detection Decreases Age at Cerebral Palsy Diagnosis, Pediatrics (2020). DOI: 10.1542/peds.2019-2126

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