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Most cerebral palsy risk factors occur before or during birth

Birth is a complex process, and in most cases it ends with joy at a new life. As with all medical procedures, things can go wrong during pregnancy and birth, and one of the outcomes of such issues can be cerebral palsy. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the majority of all cerebral palsy cases are congenital. That means that the cause of the condition occurred before or during the birth process.

While up to 90 percent of cerebral palsy cases are related to pregnancy and birth, not all of them can be traced to action taken or not taken by medical staff. In fact, the CDC says that many cases of cerebral palsy never come with 100 percent answers about the cause. That being said, there are known risks factors for the condition, and sometimes, a medical error or failure does lead to the condition.

Some of the risk factors for cerebral palsy include a low birth weight, a pregnancy that involves multiple births, a premature birth, a pregnancy involving infertility treatments, medical conditions that the mother has or any infections that might occur during the pregnancy. None of these issues is a direct cause of cerebral palsy, but they could lead to symptoms and issues that do cause the disease.

One known cause of cerebral palsy is a baby's brain being deprived of oxygen for an extended period during pregnancy or birth. Medical professionals used to believe this was a primary cause of the disease, but they now believe it is the cause of only a small percent of cerebral palsy cases. Whether lack of oxygen or some other issue caused a birth defect, such as cerebral palsy, families dealing with the disease might have a basis for a medical malpractice claim if a doctor or other health care professional was at fault.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Causes and Risk Factors of Cerebral Palsy," accessed Oct. 16, 2015

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