Cerebral palsy can be the result of a birth injury or abnormal development during or after pregnancy, caused by infection, fetal or pediatric stroke, undiagnosed maternal health problems, premature birth, and asphyxia, allowing brain damage to occur before, during, or after childbirth. Health care providers may be responsible for a cerebral palsy injury or found negligent for a delay in providing the proper diagnosis, therapy, or treatment. The earlier children are diagnosed, the better their chances of access to treatments and evidence-based interventions. If not, cerebral palsy can cause a range of disabilities, from mild to severe.
A study led by the Cerebral Palsy Foundation and Nationwide Children’s Hospital found that U.S. hospitals average an age of about 2 years at diagnosis, compared to the target of 12 months of age or younger. Along with four other institutions (UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital, Los Angeles; the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston; University of Utah Health, Salt Lake City; and Kennedy Krieger Institute, Baltimore), Nationwide Children’s Hospital developed international guidelines to implement a clinical time-to-diagnosis to reduce the age of a cerebral palsy diagnosis. The 2017 guidelines involve the support of neonatologists, developmental pediatricians, therapists, and other developmental specialists, but they also rely heavily on neurologists.
Nearly three years later, the groups say their efforts have “resulted in an average decrease of 10 months in time-to-diagnosis and have demonstrated the practicality and effectiveness of the guidelines for improving age at diagnosis—a key requirement for early interventions, which can improve CP-related developmental outcomes substantially.”