What Is Cerebral Palsy and What Is It Caused By?

Child with cerebral palsy

Cerebral palsy is a group of disorders that affect a person’s ability to control their movement. It is caused by damage to the brain and nervous system, often as a result of preventable birth injuries due to medical malpractice.

It’s estimated that 1 Million people in the United States live with cerebral palsy, and roughly 10,000 babies are diagnosed every year, according to the Cerebral Palsy Foundation.

Cerebral palsy is one of the most common disabilities resulting from non-fatal birth injuries. Additionally, a study in the medical journal Pediatrics found that Black children were nearly 30% more likely to develop cerebral palsy.

The injustice in the health care industry for too long has left parents and their children to suffer in silence. For decades, cerebral palsy lawyers with Sokolove Law have helped hundreds of families get the results they deserve, so they can afford the treatment, therapies, and equipment they need.

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Cerebral Palsy Causes at Birth

Brain damage that leads to cerebral palsy can happen at any time — during pregnancy, during birth, or shortly after birth. Brain damage at birth can also lead to developmental delays, preventing a child from meeting mental, physical, or emotional milestones.

If blood and oxygen flows are restricted from the baby’s brain, it could cause damage to incredibly sensitive cells in the brain known as white matter. When damaged, this can greatly impact the future development of the child’s motor skills and other nervous system functions.

Unfortunately, many causes of cerebral palsy involve careless and preventable errors by health care professionals during childbirth.

Forms of medical malpractice or negligence that can cause cerebral palsy include failing to:

  • Detect fetal distress such as lack of oxygen
  • Notice or treat infections
  • Perform a timely C-section
  • Use forceps or vacuum extractors properly

Living with Cerebral Palsy

While cerebral palsy is a permanent disability, various therapies and mobility aids allow many people to cope with the impacts and even improve muscle function.

Common treatments for cerebral palsy include:

  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy, or fine-motor skill therapy
  • Speech therapy

Additionally, many people seek assistive equipment including:

  • Assistive devices for speech and writing
  • Car modifications
  • Wheelchairs and ramps

Unfortunately, therapies and equipment are costly, keeping too many families from accessing the resources they need.

In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cerebral palsy care can cost an estimated $1 Million over a child’s lifetime.

That is 10 times greater than the cost of care for the average person and financially devastating to many families — in addition to the emotional toll and impact on the family's quality of life.

Legal Help for Families After Birth Injury and Trauma

Sokolove Law understands how difficult these situations can be both physically and mentally. You do not have to do this alone. Our on-staff nurses can help answer questions.

While it may seem daunting, seeking legal help after birth injuries and trauma due to medical malpractice and negligence can also help families through this difficult time.

Cerebral palsy lawsuits hold the doctors or care team accountable while also helping families:

  • Access compensation for treatment costs or other equipment
  • Get justice for their baby’s injury
  • Prevent other families from potentially going through the same thing

At Sokolove Law, our birth injury lawyers have recovered over $905 Million for families affected by cerebral palsy and other preventable birth injuries.

We have decades of experience working with families affected by birth injuries nationwide. See how we can help you by calling (800) 995-1212 or getting a free case review today.


Sokolove Law Team

Contributing Authors

The Sokolove Law Content Team is made up of writers, editors, and journalists. We work with case managers and attorneys to keep site information up to date and accurate. Our site has a wealth of resources available for victims of wrongdoing and their families.

Last modified: April 10, 2023

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Causes and Risk Factors of Cerebral Palsy.” Retrieved March 15, 2023, from https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/cp/causes.html.
  2. National Institute of Health: Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. “What causes cerebral palsy?” Retrieved March 15, 2023, from https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/cerebral-palsy/conditioninfo/causes.
  3. Pediatrics. (2011). “Racial, Ethnic, and Socioeconomic Disparities in the Prevalence of Cerebral Palsy.” Retrieved March 15, 2023, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3387914/.