Written by Jeff Meyer on 20 Sep 2015
There can be little debate about the significant impact cerebral palsy has long had, considering that it is thought to impact roughly one out of every 500 individuals. The group of afflictions falling under the umbrella of cerebral palsy includes a series of muscle impairments known to result in varying degrees of mobility loss, weakness, stiffness, seizure disorders as well as hearing loss, visual difficulties and cognitive disabilities. Some cerebral palsy patients will be only minimally limited by their condition, others will experience profound, life-long challenges. Taking into consideration current understanding of cerebral palsy, the question remains as to whether or not the condition may one day be preventable.
Medical Experts Attempt to Shed Light on Causes of Cerebral Palsy
While it is certainly true that the root causes of cerebral palsy are diverse and not entirely understood by the medical community, real progress has been made in deducing the condition’s origins. Early opinions on the topic leaned heavily in favor of viewing cerebral palsy as an affliction resulting from traumatic events at the time of labor. However, the latter portion of the 20th century saw a shift, with increasing numbers of experts arguing that prenatal conditions, maternal risk factors and genetic abnormalities were more likely to blame.
As the debate about the true causes of cerebral palsy continues to rage, more and more attention is being paid to possible ways of preventing the condition from developing altogether or at the very least, alleviating its most onerous symptoms. Changes to IVF protocols so that multiple embryo transfers would no longer be the norm was seen as an effective first step in preventing some instances of cerebral palsy, and prenatal care initiatives in many countries have taken root as a means to detect and treat fetal growth restriction and pre-eclampsia at an earlier stage. Active cooling of infants who have asphyxiated during birth (a common cause of cerebral palsy diagnoses) has become a preferred method of limiting the sort of brain injury that is a hallmark of the condition.
The Role of Birth Injuries in Cerebral Palsy Cases
Even if it is eventually discovered that a large proportion of cerebral palsy cases are in fact the result of genetic abnormalities, fetal growth issues or other prenatal conditions, it is important to emphasize that trauma at the time of birth remains a determining factor in far too many such diagnoses each and every year. Medical negligence during labor and delivery is a tragic and frequently preventable cause of debilitating harm, and it is vital that parents and families of those affected have the ability to pursue financial compensation and justice on behalf of their children through the legal system.