In determining the cause of autism and similar disabilities, the role of genetics is often front and center. While no gene has been identified as the “Autism Gene,” scientific research has revealed patterns in genealogical makeup as well as behavioral similarities in children diagnosed with autism and their blood family members. However, scientists have now found that brain injuries, specifically, damage to the cerebellum can solely cause or contribute to the development of autism.
The cerebellum controls cognitive functions such as attention and language. It’s also important in regulating fear and pleasure responses as well as making major contributions to coordination, precision, and accurate timing. What this all means is that the cerebellum helps to interpret complex sensory information necessary to form normal social relationships.
An article published by Princeton University News highlights the work of three doctors on the cutting edge of this new research. The study was led by Dr. Sam Wang, an associate professor of molecular biology and neuroscience at Princeton University. He theorizes that damage to the cerebellum either during development in the womb or from external influences during the birthing process can cause children to develop Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD. Particularly, any damage sustained to the developing brain during the second or third trimester of a mother’s pregnancy could lead to ASD. Premature babies are at an even higher risk, as the cerebellum may not have developed as much as it should by the time the baby is born. Mothers at high risk for such damage are those that:
– Take any medications that could cause birth defects;
– Have complicated births that result in a loss of oxygen – for them or their babies;
– Have a condition or illness that has been incorrectly diagnosed;
– Have allergic reactions to anesthetics or epidurals, which could potentially affect the baby; and
– Have doctors or nurses who use too much pressure with the forceps which could also injure the cerebellum, if they slip and grab the baby near the spine.
As you can see from the list of high-risk possibilities above, sometimes a mother’s medical care has no connection the development of autism. Other circumstances may make it difficult to pinpoint the trigger because ASD may not be identified in newborns immediately. In fact, many parents do not start to notice ASD-type behaviors until children are at least toddlers (when they start interacting with others more frequently). At that point, making a case against a doctor or hospital for medical negligence may be very difficult to fight. Proving that the autism or a related disability was the direct result of a medical mistake long after childbirth presents many hurdles. However, it is possible. Because of the developing nature of the ASD, the normal statute of limitations for personal injury of 1 year may be tolled. But it is important to speak to an attorney as soon as possible as the application of the law is different for each and every case.
If your child has been diagnosed with Autism or an ASD-related disorder due to a medical mistake, poor training, ill-preparedness or blatant negligence during the birthing process, you may feel as though you’re looking at a very uncertain future. Children with cerebellum and traumatic brain injuries may need costly lifelong treatment or assistance with their physical, behavioral or developmental issues, not to mention the emotional toll the diagnoses takes on your family. You may be entitled to substantial recovery for these damages as well as future damages and pain and suffering from the negligent parties. Call one of our experience child personal injury attorneys today. We offer a free consultation and no fees until you win. We are here to help get you and your child the justice you deserve. We fight for you (615)425-2500.