The most heart-breaking thing about learning that your baby has a birth injury often is the realization that the condition cannot be cured or corrected. The life you dreamed of for your child will be different than planned.
The degree of disability children experience due to birth injuries varies widely. Many families, fortunately, adjust to circumstances and move forward with a child who has to work harder but who does thrive and achieve.
Others face the all-consuming challenge of raising a child who has a debilitating birth injury, such as severe cerebral palsy.
Having a special needs child requires additional expenditures that can be costly throughout the child’s lifetime. Many children continue to need attention and care even after reaching adulthood.
It is wise for parents confronting the diagnosis of cerebral palsy or another birth injury to seek legal help. It is the only way to obtain the compensation that families need and deserve if the negligence of medical professionals caused their child’s injury.
The Prevalence and Lifetime Costs of Cerebral Palsy
In most cases, a brain injury during pregnancy or birth caused by lack of oxygen to the brain causes cerebral palsy (CP). A fetus may be deprived of oxygen if the umbilical cord becomes wrapped around their neck, and/or if the baby is left in the birth canal too long because of a difficult delivery. Traumatic brain injury (TBI) may occur if the obstetrician uses instruments like forceps or vacuum delivery devices to deliver the child and uses too much force.
Cerebral palsy causes varying levels of deficiency in motor coordination or muscular control, and is not curable. In some cases, therapy can help the individual gain better control of their body. In other cases, the child or adult with CP suffers spasticity or seizures.
The Cerebral Palsy Foundation says more than 17 million people in the world today have cerebral palsy. Additionally:
Consider the potential medical needs of a child with cerebral palsy:
Medical costs for children with cerebral palsy alone are 10 times higher than for children without cerebral palsy or intellectual disability, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. Medical costs for children with both cerebral palsy and intellectual disability are 26 times higher than for children without cerebral palsy or intellectual disability.
The CDC has estimated that the lifetime cost to care for an individual with CP is nearly $1 million (in 2003 dollars).
We must also keep in mind that assistive devices, like glasses, hearing aids, wheelchairs, computers, vans are recurring costs. They must be maintained and replaced several times as the years go by.
There are intangible costs, as well. These include the cost of lost productivity and wages for the parent(s) who must take time away from work or give up working all together to care for their child.
Get Legal Help with the Costs of Birth Injuries
We focused on cerebral palsy in this discussion because it is the most common childhood disability. But other common birth injuries can be just as costly.
If your child’s birth injury was avoidable or preventable, you may be able to obtain compensation from the medical provider’s insurance to assist you with the kinds of expenses discussed above, and to compensate you and your child for your pain and suffering.