Children’s Delays in Walking and Sitting Can Lead to Early Diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy

According to experts at the UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellent (NICE), if a child is not hitting their physical milestones and exhibiting typical behaviour for their age when they reach 18 months, parents may want to consider referring them for testing or evaluation to determine whether they may have cerebral palsy (CP).

Signs to Watch Out For

According to NICE, some key signs that parents should be wary of:

  • Not sitting by 8 months;
  • Using one hand more than the other before 12 months;
  • Not walking by 18 months.

Children should be able to sit without support between 6 and 8 months and walk on their own between 10 and 18 months. Developmental delay in movement is one of the first warning signs that physicians use to detect CP, which can be difficult to diagnose at a young age.

Testing for Cerebral Palsy

For example, the CDC notes that diagnosing CP can happen through multiple steps:

  • Developmental monitoring;
  • Developmental screening;
  • Developmental and medical evaluations.

Developmental Monitoring

Developmental monitoring, also known as surveillance, involves a physician tracking a child’s growth and development over time.

Pediatricians should monitor the behaviour of children, by observing the child during checkups to see how the child moves, by recording and updating the child’s developmental history and by asking parents whether they have any concerns about their child’s development.

This is important for all children, but particularly important for children who are at a higher risk for developmental issues due to a low birth weight or pre-term birth (or other risk factor for developmental delay).

Where any developmental concerns present during monitoring, a developmental screening test should be ordered and given as soon as possible.

Developmental Screening

Developmental screening involves a short test to determine whether a child has specific developmental delays (including motor or movement delays). The method of testing varies and can include interviewing a child’s parents or testing the child.

Children should be screened for developmental delays at regular intervals (including 9 months, 18 months, and 24 or 30 months). Outside of these timeframes, developmental screening tests can also be given if a child’s parents or doctor have concerns about their development.

Where a developmental screening test identifies anything potentially problematic, the doctor will make a further referral for developmental and medical evaluations.

Developmental and Medical Evaluations

Developmental evaluations can diagnose the specific type of developmental disorder that may be affecting a child.

The physician administering the test (generally a primary care doctor or a CP specialist) will review the child’s muscle tone, reflexes, posture, and motor skills to rule out disorders that may have similar effects to CP.

Specialists who can perform developmental evaluations include:

  • Developmental pediatricians;
  • Neurodevelopment pediatricians;
  • Child neurologists;
  • Pediatric rehabilitation doctors;
  • Pediatric physiatrists.

Additional testing can also be ordered, including brain imaging tests( CT scans, MRI’s), EEG’s, genetic testing, and/or metabolic testing.

How Can a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Help?

A commonly held misconception by parents of children with cerebral palsy is that the disorder is inevitable or genetic. In fact, in a very large proportion of cases, cerebral palsy is caused by a specific brain injury, often during birth.

Even if treating physicians believe that a child’s CP is genetic, a thorough investigation of the pregnancy, labour, and delivery may prove that the ‘genetic’ label is incorrect.

If you had complications during your pregnancy, labour and delivery, or birth, and your child suffered a brain injury such as cerebral palsy, you may have legal recourse.

For over 40 years, the dedicated medical malpractice lawyers at Sommers Roth & Elmaleh have been helping patients and families affected by birth injuries, and especially cerebral palsy. We have set ground-breaking legal precedents and have obtained significant compensation for many individuals with cerebral palsy. We have regularly been at the forefront of developments in medical malpractice litigation and are consistently recognized by members of both the legal and medical community as being among the top medical malpractice lawyers in the country. Call us at 1-416-961-1212 or contact us online for a free consultation.

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