This article has been fact checked by a Board Certified Pediatrician. Sources of information for the article are listed at the bottom.
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Cerebral palsy prevention isn’t always possible, but parents can minimize many risk factors. Medical professionals can also help reduce the chances of cerebral palsy by detecting and treating health issues in the mother, during labor, and in the newborn.
Cerebral Palsy Prevention During Pregnancy
There are many things you can do to help your baby during pregnancy. Although nothing can guarantee that your child will not develop cerebral palsy, the following steps can help reduce the risk:
- Work with your doctor to control any underlying health issues, such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
- Make sure your vaccinations are up-to-date.
- Avoid alcohol, nicotine, and drugs.
- Make to get early prenatal care.
- Keep your hands clean; wash them often to reduce the risks of possible infections transferring to the baby.
- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a flu shot can protect mothers and babies before and after birth.
Cerebral Palsy Prevention During Labor and ChildBirth
Before childbirth, learn as much as you can about the process and steps your hospital and doctor will take. Choosing the right doctor and hospital, if possible, is vital to help you feel as comfortable as possible with your medical care.
Your baby will likely be hooked up to a fetal monitoring device when you go into labor. It will allow healthcare professionals to determine if the baby is in distress. Try to learn more about fetal monitoring before labor, including how it alerts medical staff if an issue arises.
Catching fetal distress in time can potentially help prevent issues, such as oxygen deprivation, which can lead to cerebral palsy.
Further, if you have any discomfort during childbirth, try to communicate the problems immediately to your medical care team. This could potentially help reduce injuries leading to cerebral palsy and other medical issues.
Keep in mind that sometimes things will be out of your control, and it’s up to medical professionals to ensure a healthy delivery. Medical negligence, such as waiting too long to schedule and carry out an emergency C-section, can lead to several problems, including health issues that can lead to cerebral palsy.
Other forms of medical negligence can include failure to monitor you and your baby correctly during labor, leading to medical issues that can cause cerebral palsy.
In these instances, consider contacting an experienced cerebral palsy attorney if your baby develops CP due to medical negligence.
Cerebral Palsy Prevention After Childbirth
One of the causes of cerebral palsy after childbirth is jaundice. Sometimes jaundice is mild, but the severe form can cause kernicterus if not treated. Kernicterus can cause cerebral palsy, but the disorder can be prevented with proper treatment.
Kernicterus happens with the baby has a high bilirubin level in the bloodstream. Outward symptoms include the baby’s skin turning a yellowish or orange color.
Other signs of jaundice can include:
- The baby won’t breastfeed or suck from a bottle.
- The baby is excessively fussy.
- The baby is hard to wake up.
- The baby doesn’t sleep well.
If you suspect your baby may have jaundice, seek medical treatment immediately.
Another way to help prevent cerebral palsy after childbirth is to keep your baby up to date on vaccinations. CDC reports that cerebral palsy could occur if babies aren’t vaccinated against infections that could potentially cause encephalitis and meningitis.
Certain things will be out of your control during childbirth, so choosing a doctor and hospital you are comfortable with is essential.
For example, if healthcare professionals notice medical issues with your baby after birth, it’s up to them to administer the correct treatment as soon as possible. Doctors are trained to detect severe jaundice, breathing issues, and other signs that an infant is in distress.
Before leaving the hospital, CDC suggests asking the doctor about testing for jaundice and bilirubin. Doctors administer the test by placing a light meter on the infant’s head, showing the Transcutaneous Bilirubin (TcB) levels. Doctors typically order blood tests if the TcB levels are high.
Keep in mind that the appropriate medical treatment is not taken care of immediately. It could lead to lifelong disorders for your baby.
- Causes and risk factors of cerebral palsy. (2019, September 23). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/cp/causes.html
- Fetal heart rate monitoring during labor. (n.d.). American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. ACOG.
Retrieved from: https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/fetal-heart-rate-monitoring-during-labor
- What are jaundice and Kernicterus? (2019, December 3). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/jaundice/facts.html