At What Age Can Cerebral Palsy Be Diagnosed?

Typically, diagnosing cerebral palsy takes time, though more severe cases might allow for a child to be diagnosed soon after birth. This is rare, however, and most diagnoses happen within the first two years of a child’s life. This can be an immensely difficult and uncertain time for parents who are concerned about the well-being of their child, but it is important not to rush to a diagnosis without being certain that the condition exists.

There are many steps to confirming cerebral palsy. The child must be monitored for key indicators such as:

  • When does the child reach development milestones?
  • How are the child’s reflexes?
  • Is the child able to focus on his or her caregivers?
  • Is the child’s posture and movement abnormal?

A doctor will also test the child’s muscle tone, coordination, and several other factors. Medical specialists might also be consulted. Tests such as MRIs, cranial ultrasounds, or CT scans could be ordered to obtain images of the brain. Even after a cerebral palsy diagnosis is made, parents might still want to seek a second opinion to rule out the possibility of a misdiagnosis.

What Kind of Tests are Used?

In addition to the aforementioned indicators and tests, there are other factors doctors will consider to reach a diagnosis. However, there is no definitive test to diagnose cerebral palsy, which is why many tests, or a combination of tests, are necessary to diagnose this condition. Here are some of the other tests and evaluations a doctor might employ to determine if your child has cerebral palsy:

  • Review of paternal health records
  • Review of pregnancy, labor, and delivery records
  • Review of newborn screens conducted at birth
  • Physical examination of the baby
  • Performance screens, such as hearing, fatty acids, amino acids, and hemoglobinopathies
  • Neuroimaging tests to determine if brain damage is present
  • Electroencephalography (EGG) or electromyography (EMG) to analyze the child’s nervous system function
  • Lab tests, such as blood work, urinalysis, or genetic testing

Doctors are generally cautious about diagnosing children with cerebral palsy, or other conditions related to developmental delays, due to the lack of a definitive testing method. Additionally, it is not possible to conclusively diagnose a child before the age of three. Some physicians fear that delivering a formal diagnosis so early might hamper a child’s development and potential for bonding, and opt to wait and observe the child over time.

Why Is a Diagnosis Important?

Getting your child properly examined and diagnosed is important for several reasons, including:

  • Being able to understand your child’s health status
  • Having the opportunity to begin early intervention and treatment
  • Removing the doubt of not knowing
  • Being able to secure benefits to offset the cost of raising a child with this condition

There are a variety of benefit programs available to disabled children and, in order to qualify for them, your child must have a formal diagnosis.

Southfield Cerebral Palsy Attorneys

Cerebral palsy is often a preventable condition, usually caused by negligent physicians during birth. If you suspect your child is suffering from cerebral palsy, this is undoubtedly a difficult time of uncertainty for you. Unfortunately, hospitals never admit to their mistakes in such cases. At Fieger Law, we will fight to hold any at-fault parties responsible for your child’s condition. Led by internationally-known lawyer Geoffrey Fieger, our team of Southfield attorneys are experts at handling birth trauma cases and will investigate every aspect of your case to provide the answers you need. You should not have to pay for your hospital’s mistakes.

Contact us today at (800) 294-6637 to learn more about how we can help you.

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