Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Healthy Habits: Four Vital Steps for Parents To Take After Their Child Is Diagnosed With Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy, or CP, is a challenging diagnosis for many parents. Before the baby's birth, parents are envisioning an idyllic newborn period with a cuddly, cooing infant. After receiving the surprising news of a CP diagnosis, it is important to adjust plans and mindsets to best help the child. These tips can help a parent to work through those early days armed with knowledge and actionable advice.

•Feeding Considerations

Babies with CP have unique challenges related to eating. Because they have decreased muscle tone, it can be difficult for them to hold their head up appropriately while feeding or swallowing. Difficulty swallowing can increase the risk of aspiration, or liquid getting into the lungs instead of the stomach leading to pneumonia or other serious conditions. To help a CP baby feed well, parents need to support the baby's head properly while eating. Agents to thicken formula or baby food may also be used to decrease the potential for aspiration or gastroesophageal reflux issues. As the child grows, he may need the help of a mechanical device to support his head during mealtimes. Some children may require a feeding tube to receive adequate nutrition.

•Anticipate Developmental Delays

Due to the nature of CP, developmental delays are a part of the prognosis. For parents, this means that the baby will not typically achieve motor milestones at the same time as other, unaffected children. It is important to anticipate this to reduce anxiety over these delays. Parents of a child with CP should not compare their baby's physical abilities with those of the baby down the street. They can mentally prepare themselves in advance that their child will follow his or her own course. It may also be helpful to avoid websites and books that discuss typical baby growth activities as it may cause unnecessary anxiety. It is best to discuss the child's progress with a pediatrician and other trained specialists, such as physical therapists, speech pathologists, and occupational therapists.

•Seek Legal Counsel

While it may be emotionally painful, it is important for parents of an infant with cerebral palsy to discuss and write down the events surrounding their child's birth. This exercise may help to discover if there is any negligence or inappropriate proceedings surrounding the mother's labor, baby's birth, and any possible infections that may have led to this condition. If a breech in standard medical procedure has occurred, it is possible that the parents may wish to pursue legal action, and more information is available here through Cerebral Palsy Lawsuit.

•Don't Do This Alone

It is important for parents of a child with cerebral palsy to educate themselves and surround themselves with help. Caring for a baby with special needs adds a level of complexity to parenting, and it is essential to have the encouragement of family and close friends who are able to help out. Parents should enlist the help of this support system on challenging days. There are also community support groups, both local ones and online, that can provide valuable resources and care to parents.

While a CP diagnosis may change a child's life, parents can be prepared to help their child achieve as full, happy, and healthy life as possible with these tips. Proper feedings, appropriate anticipation of growth, possible legal counsel, and the support of a community can be pillars of support for families dealing with cerebral palsy.

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