Lawsuits Focused on Developmental Delays

The main focus of birth injuries caused by lack of oxygen and lack of blood flow tends to be on cerebral palsy.  However, cerebral palsy, a neurological condition characterized by impaired motor function, is separate and distinct from developmental delays.  During the first three years of their lives, children tend to advance and meet milestones very quickly.  All children advance at different paces, but children with developmental delays are often far behind other children in their age groups.

Standard milestones

There are many ways to calculate whether a child is meeting his milestones.  All children are unique and advance at different rates, so it is important to evaluate a child’s milestones by conferring with a doctor, like a pediatrician or pediatric neurologist, to determine whether appropriate milestones are not being reached.  Some good milestone checklists include:

What are developmental delays?

Developmental delays are typically thought of as mental, but they can affect a number of other areas:

    • Gross motor skills:  ability to use large groups of muscles for sitting, standing, running, walking, and maintaining balance.
    • Fine motor skills:  using hands to eat, dress, play, write, and handle small objects.
    • Language skills:  ability to speak, use gestures, communicate and understand language.
    • Cognitive ability:  ability to learn, understand, problem-solve, remember and reason.
    • Social skills:  ability to interact with others, feel empathy and sympathy, cooperate, and have relationships.

Sometimes one area may be affected, or numerous areas may be delayed.  The degree of delays varies, and can be directly related to the extent of the original birth injury.

What are the causes of developmental delays?

Significant developmental delays indicate some type of problem.  Delays in infants are typically caused by two types of problems:


Some types of developmental delays are genetic.  These medical conditions, like Down syndrome and cystic fibrosis are passed to a child from his parents.  These types of conditions cannot be caused by negligence or medical malpractice.  However, doctors and other health care providers may have an obligation to identify these medical conditions early in the pregnancy when the mother has the option of making a decision to legally abort the fetus.  Lawsuits over failure to diagnose genetic abnormalities are called wrongful birth actions.

Pregnancy/Birth Complications

Other types of developmental delays are caused by events surrounding pregnancy, labor and delivery.  These types of delays are sometimes caused by negligence of doctors or other health care providers.  In particular, prolonged lack of blood and oxygen to the brain during the labor and delivery process can kill brain cells and cause developmental delays.  This is one reason why doctors must be vigilant in monitoring the condition of a baby during the labor and delivery process.

Did medical malpractice cause my child’s developmental delays?

Your child’s developmental delays may have been caused by doctor or hospital negligence at the time of delivery.  If you want answers, contact our medical malpractice attorneys at (855) 712-7818 or online for a free consultation.  We have investigated hundreds of birth injury cases across the country, and have a proven track record of settlements and verdicts.  Your child may be entitled to money that can pay for your child’s medical care, therapies and special education.

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