Cerebral palsy is a debilitating condition that can happen at birth and is more common with twins or multiple births. Learn about compensation that may be available to your family under Florida law…
Having a child with cerebral palsy can be extremely challenging for any parent.
Having multiple children with cerebral palsy means even greater difficulties and demands.
While that might seem like a rare and extraordinary circumstance, cerebral palsy is actually more common in twins than in single-birth pregnancies. In fact, multiple gestation (giving birth to twins, triplets, quadruplets, etc.) is one of the leading risk factors for cerebral palsy.
As parents, it is important to understand what causes cerebral palsy in twins, the steps your doctors should take to avoid the development of cerebral palsy, and your rights under Florida law after this devastating diagnosis.
What Is Cerebral Palsy?
While most people (including doctors) tend to talk about cerebral palsy as if it were a singular condition, it is in fact an umbrella term that is used to describe a wide range of neurological deficits, injuries, or abnormalities affecting infants at birth. The CDC defines cerebral palsy as “a group of disorders that affect a person’s ability to move and maintain balance and posture.”
Cerebral palsy is the single most common motor disability in children, including singletons, twins, and multiples.
Facts About Cerebral Palsy in Twins
In twins, the risk of developing cerebral palsy is more than four times greater than in singletons.
Cerebral palsy affects roughly 0.2% of singleton births, 0.85% of twin births, and up to 4% of triplet births. These percentages are significant and alarming because the number of twin births in the United States is currently on the rise, thanks in part to the increasing popularity of fertility treatments.
A 2002 study found that, “Among twins, if one twin suffers a fetal death or dies in infancy, the prevalence of cerebral palsy in the surviving co-twin is considerably increased, and those from like-sex pairs are particularly at high risk.”
Likewise, there is some evidence to suggest that if one twin weighs significantly more than the other (a weight difference of at least 20%), the risk of cerebral palsy is increased for both twins.
Boy twins are more likely than girls to suffer from cerebral palsy.
In about 90% of cases, only one twin develops cerebral palsy. If both (or multiple) infants are affected, they tend to exhibit the same type of disorder with similar symptoms and levels of severity.
Causes of Cerebral Palsy in Twins
The single greatest risk factor for cerebral palsy is premature birth, which happens to be much more common in twins and multiple pregnancies.
Some causes of cerebral palsy in twins are believed to develop during pregnancy, including:
• Maternal iodine deficiency
• Maternal epilepsy / seizures
• Maternal thyroid issues
• Methylmercury exposure during pregnancy
• Gestational diabetes
• Preeclampsia / eclampsia
• Fetal macrosomia
• Problems with maternal blood pressure or circulation
• Anything that poses a risk of hypoxia
Alternatively, cerebral palsy may be caused by complications during labor and delivery, many of which are more likely when giving birth to twins:
• Prolonged labor / difficult labor
• Shoulder dystocia
• Abnormal position of fetus
In rare cases, a newborn can develop cerebral palsy after birth, within the first year of life. Causes include:
• Trauma to the head
• Dangerous infections such as meningitis or septicemia
• Other causes of infant brain damage
What Are My Rights After a Cerebral Palsy Diagnosis for My Twins?
Even in singleton births, doctors have a duty to monitor mother and child closely for any conditions that might make labor, pregnancy, or delivery more difficult or dangerous. This includes the duty to monitor for cerebral palsy risk factors and take appropriate action.
When a mother is pregnant with twins, triplets, quadruplets, or other multiples, doctors are expected to recognize the heightened risk of cerebral palsy and provide diligent medical care to reduce the risk as much as possible.
Many cases of cerebral palsy in twins are the result of medical malpractice. If one or more of your children has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, you may be entitled to compensation for your family’s pain and suffering and the years of exorbitant medical expenses that are likely to follow. The Miami birth injury lawyers at Kaire & Heffernan, LLC can help.
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Kaire & Heffernan, LLC is a Miami personal injury and medical malpractice law firm with years of experience in helping Florida families claim the justice they deserve.
Our Miami birth injury lawyers are here to help you understand your rights and options under Florida law. While we are based in Miami, we provide our services to families throughout the state. If you can’t come to us, we can come to you.
Our law firm will not charge you an attorney’s fee unless and until we recover compensation in your case, and the initial no-obligation consultation is absolutely free.
To learn more, contact Kaire & Heffernan, LLC and ask about scheduling a free consultation today.
Add link to April 2019 blog article: “What is hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy?”