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3 ways a cerebral palsy diagnosis will change your life

Pregnancy is a time of hopeful expectations. Mothers-to-be spend many hours patiently awaiting the arrival of their little bundle of joy. Tragically, a mom can do everything right during pregnancy and labor and still have her newborn sustain birth injuries if a doctor makes a mistake.

Cerebral palsy is one of many birth injuries often linked to mistakes by doctors and nurses during prenatal care or the labor and delivery process. Cerebral palsy isn't a simple diagnosis. It is a number of potential conditions and issues that develop due to brain damage incurred en utero.

Many times, this brain damage is tied to oxygen deprivation or brain bleeds before birth. Sometimes, the lack of oxygen happens in the labor process, when an unborn infant becomes tangled in the umbilical cord or the placenta detaches. There are other issues that could also lead to fetal distress. Medical professionals should be monitoring both you and your baby, but mistakes happen. When medical mistakes result in a baby developing cerebral palsy, however, the patients could both end up paying for that mistake for the rest of their lives.

What to expect when your child has cerebral palsy

It can take a while for parents to realize that a newborn has cerebral palsy. In severe cases, it may be obvious right away. Other times, it may take weeks or months for parents and medical professionals to recognize. Many times, cerebral palsy is diagnosed after a baby shows developmental delays in motor function development and other major milestones.

Once you receive that diagnosis, there are certain expectations you'll have to let go of and certain other concepts you'll need to learn to embrace. Here are three of the more substantial ways a cerebral palsy diagnosis can impact your family.

The condition lasts for life

With access to adequate medical and social supports, your child can still have a fulfilling life. However, motor and mental functions impacted by cerebral palsy will likely persist for life. With occupational and physical therapy, your child can maximize his or her potential, learning to overcome issues with motor function and strength. Speech therapy can also help with communication. Still, while certain symptoms may diminish over time, cerebral palsy will affect your child for life.

Your child likely needs full-time care

If you were planning on going back to work after maternity leave, you may feel disappointed. Unless you can afford professional child care that includes additional nursing services, you may not be able to place your child in a child care facility or day care while you work. The costs associated with a full day's care could well exceed your potential income. Many parents decide to stay home and care for their child instead of outsourcing that care.

You need to plan for the future without you

Even more so than with typical children, special needs children require careful financial and social planning. A special needs trust that is well-funded, as well as a carefully planned chain of custody can help protect your child's future in the even that you die unexpectedly.

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