Emmerdale parents will want answers following baby Eliza’s diagnosis with cerebral palsy

Posted on: October 23rd, 2017

A diagnosis or suspicion of a child suffering cerebral palsy is a difficult one for any family to face. 

As a parent I have felt the joy of knowing you will be starting your  own family, but also the anxiety of those months leading up to the birth of your first child, you hope that everything will be ok.

Some parents do find out during pregnancy that there could be problems through tests and scans.  Some parents have the most terrifying deliveries and know immediately there will be difficulties in the future.  And finally some parents think they have overcome a difficult delivery unscathed, only to find later that their child is suffering from a disability, and then they ask why?

ITV have tackled this issue in a recent story in Emmerdale. Baby Eliza’s seizure in Emmerdale, devastated parents Megan Macey and Jai Sharma, with Jai in particular struggling to cope.  Jai and Megan were given the bombshell that their daughter is indeed suffering from cerebral palsy. 

Eliza has a seizure while under Jai’s care and he immediately calls an ambulance, certain that he can’t cope with her condition. This leads Megan to suggest that they head to a cerebral palsy support group so that they can get the help and advice that they need to be the best parents they can be to Eliza.

The storyline continues to explore the feeling and action of parents who surprisingly find themselves in these difficult circumstances.  Ultimately they will at some point ask themselves the question how or why did this happen. 

As a birth injury lawyer, my mind always flips into an automatic mode of cause and affect looking for the reasons and action that can cause a brain injury during delivery.  Unfortunately, it’s a very complicated process.  Brain injuries can be caused for a variety of reasons, some entirely innocent, and some preventable.  Some are caused during pregnancy and cannot be prevented, and other give warning signs through the birth process, and there are complicated legal and medical questions as to whether the same should have been picked, acted upon, and whether that action could have stopped the injury from happening. 

Any parent asking these questions and engaging a lawyer will find that it is a long process to review all of the issues, and many independent medical opinions have to be sought, and then used if necessary in a court action.

The storyline mentions a lack of oxygen during delivery.  This is always the most common form of preventable brain injury, as the lack of oxygen triggers the fetal brain into and emergency process.  The lack of gas transfer builds up carbon dioxide in the fetal bloodstream, and as the brain is compromised, the CTG trace often used in delivery shows changes in the fetal heartrate which midwives and doctors can see and then act upon. 

Oxygen deficiency can be caused in a variety of ways, compromise of the umbilical cord, problems with the placenta, or problems with the mother breathing.  Physical problems can occur.  In a shoulder Dystocia a baby’s shoulders become stuck, impacting on their mother’s pubic bone.  This can create a problem with the umbilical cord and therefore baby’s oxygen.  Remember a baby can’t breathe on their own before they are full delivered, and a reliant on the umbilical cord for getting their oxygen through the placenta.  In a shoulder Dystocia specific manoeuvres are needed to deliver a baby safely without physical injury.  In day of old the traction often applied to a baby in this crisis would end up causing nerve damage to the neck, in hope that the speed achieved would avoid any brain injury from lack of oxygen. 

So if Megan and Jai of Emmerdale are to find our happened, they do need to speak with a good birth injury lawyer, and tell them exactly what happened during the delivery.  After that the process is one of getting a full set of records, and asking the right questions of the right independent experts.  It could be that no one is at fault.  But if there is a fault somewhere Baby Eliza could have a claim against those health practitioners.  A damages claim could provide her with the assistance she needs throughout her life for which she would otherwise be reliant of benefits and the social provision which remains under constant threat though budget cuts. 

Speaking to the right lawyer is key.  Here at Coffin Mew we have the right expert lawyers to provide people with that advice.  We have succeeded to help many victims of medical negligence, whether it be through shoulder Dystocia, or cerebral palsy caused from lack of oxygen.