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Cerebral palsy and its common risk factors

Cerebral palsy is caused by developmental problems or damage involving the brain of a young child. It's been linked at times to oxygen deprivation. While this is one possible reason for CP, there are others that doctors are now considering as well, meaning it's important to know the risk factors. Some include:

1. Premature births. Children are thought to be at a greater risk before the 37th week out of 40, though the risk is even greater before the 32nd.

2. Infections while the mother is still pregnant. An infection can cause inflammation, which can damage a child's brain in the womb.

3. Complications during birth. Complications include things like a uterine rupture, the detachment of the placenta, or issues with the umbilical cord -- like a cord that gets tangled around a child's neck. Any complication that interferes with the child's oxygen supply increases the risk.

4. A low weight at birth. Technically, any child under five and a half pounds has a greater risk, though doctors are really concerned about children who are under three pounds and five ounces.

5. Injuries and infections after birth. For instance, encephalitis and meningitis are both infections that can lead to brain injuries and CP.

It's important to know that brain damage and cerebral palsy can happen before the child is born, while he or she is being born, or even in the child's early life after birth. If you think it was caused during birth, perhaps by mistakes that were made by the medical team, you must know what rights you have to compensation. Caring for a child with CP can be quite costly and can change the child's life -- and his or her parents' lives -- forever.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Causes and Risk Factors of Cerebral Palsy," accessed Jan. 03, 2017

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