What causes cerebral palsy? For parents who have a child who has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, questions can arise as to the cause of this diagnosis in their child. According to the medical literature, there can be multiple causes for cerebral palsy. With that said, the purpose of this Maryland birth injury article is to focus on the lack of oxygen, or reduced level of oxygen being the underlying cause of cerebral palsy.


In some cases, doctors may initially inform parents that a genetic reason is the cause of the cerebral palsy diagnosis. However, this is not always the case, as demonstrated by further genetic testing in some instances. As a matter of fact, we had a family who initially thought that their child’s cerebral palsy diagnosis was due to genetics, only to find out later that their child did not demonstrate the characteristics of the underlying genetic diagnosis.




Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder that affects the body’s movement and muscle coordination. Information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals that cerebral palsy is the most common motor disability in children.


When a cerebral palsy diagnosis is present, areas of the brain which are injured are usually the parts that control motor functions. Children who are diagnosed with cerebral palsy generally have trouble with movement, posture, and depth perception. In some instances, swallowing and feeding can also be an issue.





One of the ways in which cerebral palsy can be caused is due to the lack of oxygen getting to the brain during a vaginal delivery. A reduced level of oxygen during a vaginal delivery can be due to several issues. For example, if the baby’s umbilical cord gets compressed, then blood and oxygen can get cut off to the baby. In addition, if the mother suffers from the condition placental previa (the placenta covers the cervix), this condition can cause the mother to hemorrhage, thus adversely impacting the baby’s blood and oxygen levels.


Doctors can use a tool called the electronic fetal heart monitor to help assist with determining whether the baby is tolerating a vaginal delivery. The fetal heart monitor assesses the baby’s heart rate, among other things. When things like cord compression occur, doctors can see a sudden drop in the baby’s heart rate on the fetal heart monitor.


If a baby progresses through labor too long with a reduced level, or lack of oxygen, fetal hypoxia may occur. Doctors must timely diagnose and treat fetal distress (the baby is no longer tolerating a vaginal delivery) or risk the baby suffering a brain injury. In many cases, if the oxygenation problem cannot be cleared up with initial intrauterine resuscitation measures, an emergency C-section may be warranted to help the baby.





What causes cerebral palsy? Hopefully now you have a better understanding as to one of the potential causes of cerebral palsy. If your child’s doctors have spoken to you regarding hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, or neonatal encephalopathy (or you have seen these words in your child’s medical records), and you have more questions from a medical/legal perspective, this is what I invite you to do.


Pick up the phone and give me a call. I can be reached at 301-850-4832. I answer Maryland birth injury and medical malpractice questions just like yours all the time and I will be happy to listen to your story.


Marcus B. Boston, Esq.

Boston Law Group, LLC

2 Wisconsin Circle, Suite 700

Chevy Chase, Maryland 20815



1-833-4 BABY HELP


Marcus Boston is a Maryland medical malpractice attorney who helps people navigate the Maryland childbirth injury and medical malpractice process to get money for their injuries caused by the carelessness of doctors and hospitals. BLG handles cases in Prince George’s County, Baltimore City, Montgomery County, Howard County, Anne Arundel County, and all other Maryland Counties. blgesq.com