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Adults with Cerebral Palsy Suffer More Chronic Conditions

doctorAdults with cerebral palsy face a significantly higher risk of several chronic conditions, including heart problems, hypertension, diabetes, and asthma, according to a recent study.

The authors of a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) on December 1 looked at eight different chronic illnesses in order to compare those with cerebral palsy to those who did not have the condition. The conditions were diabetes, asthma, hypertension, heart problems, stroke, emphysema, joint pain and arthritis. Researchers found that those with cerebral palsy were 2 to 5 times more likely to experience these problems. The most pronounced increase was asthma, which 20.7% of adults with cerebral palsy suffered from, as opposed to adults without CP, who faced the condition only 9.4% of the time.

The study was conducted by researchers at The University of Michigan, who considered 9 years of data pertaining to 200,000 adults, including more than 1,000 with CP. They used data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, which was carried out between 2002 and 2010. Researchers took into account age, sex, weight, physical disability and inactivity, all factors which place the subjects at higher risks for conditions.  They still found significantly higher rates for adults with cerebral palsy.

Cerebral palsy and malpractice

The JAMA study suggests that the burden carried by adults with cerebral palsy may be even greater than previously understood. The condition, which can range from mild to severe forms, might entail a host of neurological and physical challenges, ranging from speech, hearing, or vision problems, to cognitive delays, to movement and muscle tone issues.

It is not always clear what caused CP in a given individual. Some risk factors for the condition can be anticipated and managed, whereas others cannot be predicted. In certain cases, however, the cause of cerebral palsy is birth injury malpractice.

Medical professionals whose treatment of their patient falls below an acceptable standard of care by failing to monitor a baby’s heart rate, to respond to fetal distress, or to perform a C-section as needed (to cite a few examples), can put a baby at risk for brain damage and cerebral palsy.

Assessing damages in a birth injury lawsuit

Parents whose children have CP due to negligence may consider suing medical professionals responsible in a birth injury lawsuit. Damages in such a lawsuit are assessed using a number of considerations. First, medical expenses will be taken into consideration, as well as such non-physical damages like emotional distress suffered by parents and child thus far. However, the court will also have to consider long-ranging effects of the condition and the lifelong need for therapies and medical assistance of various kinds as well as the loss of earning potential, income, and quality of life on the part of the child.

Given that the JAMA study suggests that CP patients may experience chronic conditions that reduce quality of life and longevity, or may add to expenses, the courts may consider these factors as they assess the long term costs associated with the condition.

Journal of American Medical Association, Chronic Conditions in Adults With Cerebral Palsy