Down's Syndrome and Cerebral Palsy for Clinical Negligence

Down’s Syndrome and Cerebral Palsy Claims for Clinical Negligence
Pregnancy can be both an exciting and worrisome time for those expecting and their families. With ever increasing medical advances it is now possible to screen for various defects such as Down’s syndrome and other conditions, prior to birth.
The risk of a child being born with Down’s syndrome directly correlates to the age of the mother. The risks become much greater the older the expectant mother becomes.
  • 1:1,500 at 20 years of age
  • 1:800 at 30 years of age
  • 1:270 at 35 years of age
  • 1:100 at 40 years of age
  • 1:50 at 45+ years of age
However, there are various screening programs, which aim to determine which pregnancies may be affected. There are two screening methods, which include serum screening and ultrasound screening. These methods can be used in isolation, but are much more effetive if used in conjunction with one another.
The 12 week scan provides an excellent opportunity not only to date the pregnancy, but also to check for Down’s syndrome. Down’s syndrome can most easily be detected from an ultrasound scan between 11 weeks and 2 days and 13 weeks and 6 days gestation. However, the most accurate readings occur at 12 weeks.
An expectant mother should also receive a blood test at 10 and 15 weeks and this should be read in conjunction with the 12 week scan. If both are considered together, there should be ample opportunity for an experienced sonographer to detect foetal abnormalities.
When examining the foetus, the sonographer will examine in some detail the nuchal translucency. This is a small pocket of fluid beneath the skin in the foetus's neck and this is present and seen in all foetus's in early pregnancy. The pocket of fluid is often increased in foetuses with Down’s syndrome.
The sonographer will measure the nuchal translucency, which often appears on the ultrasound scan as a black space under the skin. The nuchal translucency should normally measure no more than 2.5mm. If the nuchal translucency measures more than 2.5mm then there is an increased risk that the child will suffer from Down’s syndrome.

In addition to this the sonographer will consider the foetus's nasal bone. Significant research indicates that the shape of the nasal bone is a clear indicator, which should not be overlooked.

If the screening test illustrates that there is a chance that the foetus may have Down's syndrome, and where the rsik that the foetus may have Down's syndrome is greater than a one in 250 chance, the expectant mother will be offered a diagnostic test. 

There are two diagnostic tests available - chorionic villus sampling (CVS) and amniocentesisis. CVS testing occurs between 11-14 weeks and amniocentesisis testing is performed at 16 weeks of pregnancy.
Amniocentesisis Testing
An Ultrasound scan will clarify the position of the baby in the womb. A needle will be inserted through the abdomen of the expectant mother into the womb and a sample of the amniotic fluid will be taken. The amniotic fluid will be analysed and a diagnosis determined. 
Chorionic villus sampling
 An ultrasound scan is used to guide a needle into the abdomen and a tissue sample is taken from the placenta. The sample is analysed in the laboratory and a diagnosis determined. 
There is an increased risk of miscarriage when a diagnosistic test is undertaken.
Cerebral Palsy and Clinical Negligence
There are various other complications that can occur during both pregnancy and during childbirth. Cerebral Palsy is a condition affecting a child's brain that can cause both physical and mental disability. This can occur before, during or after the delivery and there are numerous factors which can result in a child developing Cerebral Palsy. For example as a result of problems with blood supply to the baby's brain during delivery and birth trauma. However, Cerebral Palsy can occur while the baby is still growing in the womb.
Unlike Down’s syndrome, it is not possible to test for Cerebral Palsy in the foetus. There are various different methods that Doctors use to help diagnose Cerebral Palsy. Primarily Doctors will begin by testing the child’s motor skills and analysing the child’s past medical history.
Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy
Some of the symptoms of Cerebral Palsy include:
·         Developmental delay
·         Problems walking, eating, talking
·         Poor coordination
·         Poor balance
·         Learning difficulties
·         Abnormal muscle tone
·         Poor posture
A doctor can also perform various medical tests such as MRI Scans, CT Scans, and ultrasounds to help diagnose Cerebral Palsy.
If you are concerned as to how your pregnancy has been managed, or any resulting injury to you or your child then contact specialist Down Syndrome and Cerebral Palsy Lawyers at Head Injury UK. We offer free legal advice to those who think they may be affected by cerebral palsy or Down's syndrome as a result of clinical negligence. 

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