When is cerebral palsy caused by medical negligence?

By Blackwater Law

Happy child with cerebral palsy condition


Take a look at examples of how cerebral palsy can be caused by medical negligence and some advice on the next steps to take.

How can negligence cause cerebral palsy?

Incidents, where negligent acts can lead to the development of cerebral palsy, can mainly be categorised as follows:

  • Failure to act in a timely manner
  • Failure to recognise symptoms that should be major warning signs
  • Delayed or misdiagnosis
  • Improper or dangerous use of medical tools such as forceps
  • Infections


During the course of pregnancy, mothers can be particularly susceptible to developing infections, which can in turn have a severe impact on the health and development of their child. Where staff fail to diagnose infections in the mother or baby during the course of pregnancy and/or fail to appropriately treat these infections, you may be entitled to make a claim for cerebral palsy compensation if your child is then diagnosed with the condition. An example of an infection linked to an increased risk of cerebral palsy is meningitis.

Abnormal development of the brain

In some cases your baby’s brain may begin to show signs of abnormal development whilst in the womb. This may be treatable, or at least further deterioration preventable, but where medical staff fail to recognise, diagnose and take reasonable action in such cases and your baby develops cerebral palsy as a result, it may be possible for you to make a claim for cerebral palsy compensation.

Birth asphyxia (hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy)

Adequate oxygen supply to the baby is crucial to its development. During a complex birth, the oxygen supply to the baby can be reduced or in the worst cases cut off completely. Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy occurs when the baby’s brain is deprived of oxygenated blood causing the baby to suffer a brain injury. Such brain injury can impact parts of the brain that cause cerebral palsy. The longer a baby is deprived of oxygen the exponentially greater the risk of brain injury.

Bleeding from the brain

During pregnancy, in very rare instances, your baby may have begun to experience bleeding from the brain whilst in the womb. Whilst the original causes for this bleeding may have nothing to do with medical staff, their failure to recognise, diagnose and appropriately treat such an affliction promptly may mean you are entitled to claim for cerebral palsy compensation.

Placental abruption

Where placental abruption occurs (the placenta separates from the womb), affecting the supply of oxygen and nutrients to your baby, it is crucial that medical staff diagnose the condition and act promptly. Failure to act increases the risk of premature birth and stillbirth but can also lead to developmental problems such as a brain injury which could lead to cerebral palsy. Where this is the case you may be entitled to make a cerebral palsy medical negligence compensation claim.

Traumatic or complicated birth

Where you experience a premature or particularly traumatic birthing process, careful handling and delivery of the baby are key. Unduly forceful or inconsiderate handling by medical staff can cause brain injuries which could lead to cerebral palsy. Careful attention is critical, particularly during assisted deliveries where the baby is in an awkward position or if the mother is too weak to deliver the baby themselves. Where medical staff mismanage or are overly forceful with forceps and this injures the baby or causes a brain injury, parents may be able to make a forceps delivery claim for brain injury compensation. Babies can also suffer asphyxiation (temporary deprivation of oxygen) during a difficult birth, which can lead to brain injuries and cerebral palsy.

Get expert advice

Call today and speak to Jason Brady, specialist birth injury solicitor. Find out if you can claim compensation.

CALL 0800 083 5500

How to make a cerebral palsy claim

If you find yourself in a situation whereby you think you should make a cerebral palsy claim, you should seek specialist advice from a birth injury lawyer as it is a complex situation with lots of considerations over what compensation would be due.

Our specialist cerebral palsy lawyers will be able to guide you through the complex claim procedure and will support you all the way. Contact us now to get free initial advice from our specialist birth injury solicitors.

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