According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), staying healthy during pregnancy can help to prevent developmental problems such as cerebral palsy in infants and toddlers. To maintain a healthy pregnancy, the CDC recommends getting early and regular prenatal care, washing hands often with soap and water to reduce the risk of infections, brushing your teeth at least twice and flossing once per day, getting a flu shot, and contacting a health care provider as soon as possible if you are sick.
The professionals at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development offer these additional recommendations:
• Begin or continue to get at least 400 micrograms of folic acid by taking vitamin supplements every day. Most prenatal vitamins contain that amount of folic acid.
• Avoid drinking alcohol and smoking tobacco.
• Avoid exposure to toxic substances, such as radiation, pesticides, some metals and certain chemicals. If you’re not sure if something might be harmful, avoid contact with it until you check with your health care provider.
• Follow a healthy diet. Choose a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products to help ensure the developing fetus gets all of the nutrients it needs.
• Maintain a safe diet. Avoid certain foods such as raw fish, undercooked meat, deli meat and unpasteurized cheeses such as certain types of feta and bleu.
• Limit caffeine intake. Talk to your health care provider about the amount of caffeine you get from coffee, tea, soda and chocolate. They may limit your intake to 200 milligrams (the amount in about one 12-ounce cup of coffee) per day.
Infants with cerebral palsy frequently have developmental delays and are slow to reach key developmental milestones. Mothers and fathers often become concerned about their infant’s or toddler’s development if the child is having troubles learning to roll over, sit, crawl or walk. Symptoms and effects, which range from mild to severe, also may include mental impairment and/or difficulty with speech, drooling, growth problems and/or failure to thrive. Other indicators include attention span problems, unusual tension and irritability, vision and hearing difficulties, seizures, lethargy, spasticity of muscles, use of one side of the body more than the other and poor feeding abilities.
Risk factors for developing cerebral palsy can include low birth weight, premature birth, multiple births, assisted reproductive technology, infections during pregnancy, jaundice and kernicterus and medical conditions of the mother. Mothers with thyroid problems, intellectual disability or seizures have a slightly higher risk of having a child with cerebral palsy.
Any trauma or damage done to the brain in the first few years of life can cause cerebral palsy. Some of the most common non-medical causes of the disorder include child abuse, blunt head trauma, car accidents and near drowning. In some cases, children develop cerebral palsy as a result of negligent medical practitioners or carelessness.
If your child has developed cerebral palsy as a result of negligent medical care or irresponsibility, it is prudent to contact a law firm with attorneys who specialize in cerebral palsy cases. Caring for a child affected with cerebral palsy can place a heavy financial and emotional burden on your family. A settlement, which can go a long way toward medical treatment and rehabilitation, may be obtainable.