Birth injury series - Cerebral palsy and brain damage

10 July 2015

Families affected by a birth injury are often reluctant to pursue a claim against the NHS or private hospital involved with their child’s birth.  They may be distraught and finding it difficult to come to terms with the devastating news that their child has a catastrophic brain injury.

Caring for a child with a brain injury such as cerebral palsy is stressful and demanding and places huge pressure on the whole family, from an emotional and a financial perspective.

Although there is no cure for the condition, personalised therapies, a package of good quality care, aids and equipment and advanced communication devices can all help manage and improve their child’s quality of life, enabling them to participate in activities of daily living that others take for granted.  An appropriate package of care can, however, be impossible to obtain without extra financial resources being available and this can be the determining factor which prompts families to seek redress through the legal process when something has gone wrong.

Brain damage that results in a diagnosis of cerebral palsy can arise in a variety of different ways and very sadly medical mistakes around the time of the birth, or shortly afterwards can sometimes, but not always, be the cause. Brain damage can be caused by a lack of oxygen, an excess of certain toxins, physical trauma or damage to the placenta or umbilical cord to name but a few mechanisms of injury.

Very sadly claims relating to birth injury are more common than one might expect.  Maternity services in the UK are overstretched and understaffed and this can result in maternity and neonatal units being unable to cope with the ever increasing birth rates, and high demand, particularly during holiday periods and over weekends.  Mistakes are made and the consequences can be catastrophic for the child and the family, resulting in a lifetime of strain for all concerned.

If the mistakes were avoidable then it may be possible to bring a clinical negligence claim.

Further information

For more information, please visit our page on Cerebral Palsy and Birth Injury. You may also be interested in reading some of our other blogs on this topic, including; 

Kingsley Napley is experienced in acting in clinical negligence claims relating birth injuries. If you would like advice, please contact the Clinical Negligence and Personal Injury team on 020 7814 1200 or by emailing us at

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