Benjamin Bratt Opens Up About Daughter's Disability

07/24/2008 at 12:30 PM ET


Actor Benjamin Bratt is known to audiences for his roles on television and movies, but the 44-year-old is glad to be trading the big screen for the small one in the new drama The Cleaner.  Not that the former Law & Order star doesn’t love doing movies, but he knows that he "cannot be a great husband and father — especially the father of a child with special needs" unless he is home, and his new series is giving him that opportunity. 

Benjamin and his wife Talisa Soto‘s daughter Sophia Rosalinda, 5 ½, suffered a brain injury during her birth, which resulted in the little girl having physical disabilities. Benjamin shared that what he and Talisa "faced as parents was like being in a tunnel of darkness for the first few years of her life, because we didn’t know what to do."  After the couple "educated ourselves and assembled the best team of therapists we could," Sophia has made great progress and Benjamin shared that she "understands everything, she’s quick to laugh, she’s loving and a physically beautiful child."  A big help to Sophia, who "clearly doesn’t want to be left behind," is her younger brother Mateo Bravery, 2 ½, who "encourages her" and "pushes her along."  She is now ready for her next challenge — school.

Now she’s about to start kindergarten. It makes us fearful and excited at the same time.

Source: The Boston Globe; Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty.

FILED UNDER: News , Parenting

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Lisa on

I did not know that…how sad to hear about their daughter’s difficulties. I have a special needs child myself, and know what they have gone through. It sounds like their family has really grown stronger through it, and really love their special little one.

tink1217 on

I know what they go through, I also have a special needs child. It didn’t happen at birth but soon after. My heart goes out to them and it sounds like they are doing a great job!

Dancer on

It’s so sad to hear about Benjamin Bratt’s daughter. I have a friend who’s baby was also injured during birth. Though it wasn’t a brain injury, dealing with any type of handicap for life is hard for a little child.

I hope those people who keep harping about natural births and want c-sections to be banned spare a thought for those innocent childrem who are damaged for life while undergoing a “natural” birth. I was so spooked by my friend’s experience that I had an elective c-section. My fear was compounded by the fact that my grandmother died during childbirth at home, something that was quite common in the days before “medicated” births.

Ash on


Having a hospital birth doesn’t preclude something going wrong. Every kind of birth has its risks! One of my nephews was born at the hospital, and he was a difficult birth. The OB was so rough with him (using forceps and what not) that my nephew suffered some minor brain damage! So there you go… he was injured in a hospital by a doctor. Fortunately he’s okay for the most part, but he still suffers occasional from visual seizures (I’m assuming it’s because the damage affected the occipital lobe of his brain). I also know someone else who recently gave birth in a hospital… Both she and the baby contracted MRSA staph infections while there. Talk about a nightmare!

You should know that c-sections are major surgery and carry their own set of risks. I think they’re great when they’re absolutely necessary, but I’m not sure I’d elect to have one considering the possible side effects (uterine ruption, bowel problems, etc.). I would still rather have a natural birth, but that’s just my opinion.

Ash on

Sorry for all the grammatical errors and typos.

london on

Dancer,you do realise that a natural birth is better for mother&baby than a c section,and to have a c section cos you were spooked by your friends birthing experience is not really a good reason to have a c section, the mortility rate for c sections is alot worse than natural births,personally i belive that whatever is best for child is the way to go,he does not mention if talisa had a c section or natural delivery whatever happened could be a result of either.

Danielle on


Let’s not use this post as an opening to expound our personal feelings on the birth issue. It’s just as inflamatory to use Bratt’s experience as a cautionary tale against natural child birth, as it would be if someone used an accident during a c-section to say, ‘this is why you shouldn’t do this.’ Anything can happen to anyone, at anytime. Period.

And no one is saying ‘ban c-sections’ as you interpreted above – the issue is about the pressure on women from the medical community to default to having one, when it may not be as necessary as it seems, therefore increasing the frequency of what is essentially major abdominal surgery, compounding the recovery process and manipulating the fears and insecurities of mothers and families who are looking for assurance and guidance.

I realize that, ironically, I’ve commented that this article shouldn’t be about natural v c-section but by responding, I’ve added to the dialogue. So…I certainly welcome the next poster to refocus the next reply back to the Bratt family and not on such a divisive, no-win issue.

Ben'sMom on

I commend Benjamin for speaking out about his daughter’s brain damage as a result of a traumatic birth. My son Ben, also had a very rough delivery in 2006 and has Mild CP and Epilepsy as a result of brain damage. His brain damage, like Benjamin’s daughter, seems to mainly be affecting him physical(19 months old and just started crawling).

I am keeping the Bratt’s in my thoughts and prayers. I am sure his daughter is a very special little girl and will do great things with her life!

Elyse on

I am so sorry to hear about Benjamin’s daughter. I was a speacial needs child myself, so I can relate. I had spinal meningitis as a baby,Luckily my parents and my doctor caught it early, but the doctor said it would take a while to see if there was any damage to my brain. My dificulties have never been really diagnosed as a result of the meningitis, but my instincts tell me that is what has caused my problems.

It sounds like Benjamin and his family are doing the right thing. Being educated and providing the proper treatments such as therapy, and seeing specialists is immensely helpful. I commend Benjamin on how he is helping his daugter, and I hope she can live a normal life.🙂

Jennifer on

Dancer, no one wants C-Sections to be banned. They are needed in emergency cases. However, they are an unnecessary major surgery for the majority of women who are capable of giving birth vaginally. The risks to the baby are vastly greater in a C-Section delivery than in a normal (non-complicated) vaginal. The process of going through contractions, the release of oxytocin and endorphins, the process of actually squeezing through the birth canal are all vital to a newborn. According to Michel Odent ( a renowned OB and the expert for Mothering Magazine) the rush of oxytocin a woman gets after birth is vital for bonding and for forgetting the pain of birth. If a woman was delivered vaginally herself, and then has a C-section she can still get the rush because her brain was wired for it at her own birth, but women delivered by c-section who go on to have c-sections will not. (I can attest to this very fact with a dear friend who was born via c-section, opted for an elective c-section and has had big problems bonding with her son). Also, according to Ob.Gyn.News (Aug 1, 2002, vol 136, number 15), the risk of maternal death for c-sections is double to triple that of vaginal birth; there is triple the risk of infection; the risk of blood clots is 2 to 5 times higher. There is a much greater risk of placenta previa, accreta or percreta, uterine rupture, surgical injury, spontaneous abortion and ectopic preganncies with future pregnancies. For babies, the risks of lung disorders (triple the rate for asthma) is vastly increased because their lungs do not get compressed and fluid remains. Also, there has been supposition that c-sections increase the risk of SIDS.

By far the first choice for a health woman who has no risk factors should be an attempt at vaginal birth. If true complications or medical necessity are present than no one is saying that a c-section should not be performed.

Hea on

Dancer – Funny enough (or well, not funny at all really), I have a friend with a cerebral palsy-damage which she got while being delivered by c-section.

C-sections are good for emergencies and such. I was born by c-section myself after 36 hours of labor and the cord wrapped tightly around my neck. It’s good in those cases but I am completely positive that a natural birth is the best thing for both child and mother in most births.

Molly on

Jennifer, your comment is absolutely extensive !!! I don’t like the comments to not discuss the c-section versus natural birth, and I have stated several times, that these discussions are excellent cause they give others so many information (like in the case of your comment) You stated lots of things I didn’t know, although I am also an opponent to selective c-sections. I absolutely agree with you.

As for dancer’s comment, what happened to his daughter is very sad. But you should know, that the c-sections do posses way more risks then natural birth. There is absolutely no birth option without any risk. I can’t believe that you are suggesting that women should have c-sections becuase the natural birth can leave the baby brain damaged. While it indeed can, its extremely rare.

It’s like someone would suggest to ban walking cause someone got hit by a bike on a sidewalk, and put everyone in the cars instead. Driving has way more dangerous even though that one person had an accident while walking !!!

LisaB on

I understand what Dancer is saying. I have had two c-sections and one VBAC. My c-sections were absolutely necessary and I am glad that they were done. My VBAC was traumatic and scary and my son nearly died. He came out blue and limp and the doctor said “oh shit”. Oh shit was right! I wanted a c-section with him and VBAC’s were all the rage and the doctor refused. Luckily we wre both fine and he is a very smart boy, but not all outcomes are so good. We can what if all day, but nobody except the Big Man Upstairs knows what the outcome will ever be. With my third baby, I opted for a c-section that was scheduled, but due to complications he was taken by C 3 weeks early. All my boys are perfect and fine and healthy.

There are complications and risks with evrything, but despite what a lot of posters are saying, c-sections are safe and usually done because they are medically necessary.

I used to wonder why on earth Mothers chose to not breastfeed..I was a breastfeed advocate! When my third came along, I couldn’t BF and it was traumatic, but you know what. I finally “get” why some mothers chose otherwise and I have MORE of a respect for those who chose not to because of various reason (s) b/c it is hard to make that decision and society doesn’t cater to formula feeding moms the way they do to BF moms.

As for this family, I am grateful that they have shared about their daughter to inspire others in the same boat. ALl my best to them.

Lisa on

My daughter also has special needs and I can so relate to this post. The way he put it about being in the dark at first and then “educated ourselves and assembled the best team of therapists we could” is exactly what we went through as well. It is nice to hear other family experiences. Thank you Bratt family for speaking publicly about your little girl Sophia. No matter the circumstance, these children are a beautiful blessing to us all.

Lorelei on

I think they are wonderful parents for handling their daughter’s special needs with perseverance and fighting for their child and family. What could drive so many couples apart has seemed to make them a stronger family unit. God Bless this family.

marla on

i’m so glad he’s talking about his little girl. i too am a mom of a little dude with special needs. it’s a completely different parenting journey than the one i envisioned, but i can honestly say i’m a better mother because of it.

question, though? where does it say that the brain injury was related to a vaginal/unmedicated/non c-section delivery?

Nikka on

Lisa B, thank you for sharing your stor !! In your case, the third c-section wouldn’t be elective neither but most likely necessary (weird that your doctor wouldn’t help you but i guess it happen) In cases like yours and the emergency cases, the c-section is the best solution. The problem comes when the mother is perfectly capable but chooses c-section cause she thinks its more convenient and less work

As for BF, that’s similar. BF is best for the baby no matter what, but again, mothers do have various reasons not to BF and in that case of course the bottle is necessary. But if a mother can and wants to, BF is still best solution

Dancer on

I agree that natural births should be attempted by healthy women, but far too many women are denied c-sections because insurance companies do not want to pay for them. My friend was with Kaiser, and despite numerous complications and being in labor for 48 hours, she was denied a c-section. Aside from having a baby that was permanently damaged, she was torn “from here to there”, and took a year to heal. I wonder how that is worse than a c-section.

As for all the hocus-pocus about oxycontin and the “love hormones”, I had a c-section and I couldn’t have bonded better with my baby. I breastfed through a lot of obstacles; whatever I did was for the benefit of my baby. On the other hand, my SAHM mom, who had natural home-births, rejected two of her children, and never showed them any love. Just to show that all these stereotypes about women who stay home and have their babies naturally making the best mothers is a pile of bovine manure.

Tiffany on

I think they are wonderful parents for all they have done for their daughter. I have a son who is special needs, although his is not a physical disability, its a processing disorder in his brain. When he said it was like being in a dark tunnel.. he is soo right. I felt that way while we were waiting for the test results from the evaluation. Once we had a diagnosis, we researched the condition, started therapy sessions, special ed in pre school, and he is slowly catching up to his peers.
It takes alot of strength and persistence to raise any child, but parents of special needs children sometimes have to work a little harder to make sure their babies get all the help they need.
I pray that their daughter will eventually one day be able to function as normally as possible.

Nikka on

Dancer, again, you are slightly mixing apples and oranges. Your friend would have emergency c-section in her case if they would approve (thats horrible they didnt because of money!!) and attempted natural birth. No one is disputing these kind of c-sections. What people are disputing, are the c-sections without a reason, the so-called elective ones



brooke on

How sad, I didn’t know his daughter was special needs. Benjamin sounds like a good dad

skunknuggets on

It is good that he is open about his daughter b/c a lot of people probably don’t talk about it, but is it known for a fact that his child suffered the brain injury during a vaginal birth? I don’t remember seeing that in this posting.

It could have also happened during a c-section as well. There was a case in HI a couple years ago where a baby was born via scheduled c-section but instead of being given oxygen, it was given carbon dioxide instead b/c the wrong canister was hooked up.

Neither choice is risk free and both carry risks. What it comes down to is: which set of risks are worth taking? In most cases, the benefits of vaginal birth are worth the risks. I’ve had a c-section with my first and vbac with my second, so I do have experience with weighing the risk vs benefits on what’s best for me. Not that everyone should come to the same conclusion, but everyone needs to look at the risks.

SouthernBelle on

God bless them. I knew she had disabilities and they seem to be determined to help her advance as much as possible and even have her little brother to help. I have a deep respect for people who meet these types of challenges head-on and aren’t hush-hush about opening up, as much as they are comfortable, about their hurdles and their accomplishments with their children. It helps other parents of children with disabilities. I have even more respect for Benjamin and Talisa for being the great parents they are and using their position and fame as springboards to helping others facing similar challenges.

Alana on

It’s very sad to hear about any child disability. i hope Benjamin’s daughter will do great and with help of loving parents and little brother, she’s already a happy child! No matter what status we take in the social life, we are all parents and the one who loves greatly will do anything they possibly can to have their children healthy and happy!
I’m glad he shared their story and wish any family with such problems the best!!!

Monika on

when they were in san francisco, i used to see the three of them at church all the time, i ran into his mother at the park or toys r us a few times, the little girl is just darling and he is more beautiful irl. my husband used to tell me, stop burning a hole int he back of his head at church lol.

ella hall on

Dear Mr. Bratt:
You can find assistance in the form of cord blood stem cells to help your daughter recover from her disability.

Please go to this website: for more info and contact info

The closest cord blood stem cell facility is in Tijuana, Mexico
Please pass this helpful info on to Mr. Bratt. Thanks, Ella Hall

Salima Ajani-Merali on

I am trouble by people saying sorry. There is nothing to be sorry about. Having a special needs child is a gift from god and one should be congratulated instead of pittied as god has trusted you to take care of his gift. I have a 13 year old son who got brain- injured at birth and we as a family have become stronger and mire united. We have dine many therapies such as 7 years at the Institutes for the Achievement of human potential in philadelphia, therasuit therapy at therapy for kids in ft. Lauderdale, and oxygen therapy, Dorn method therapy and we are happy to say he is keeping healthy and happy. I always tell people that they are lucky to have a special needs child and people should not give pitty instead praise with happiness. It’s nice to know that celebraties are making people aware of their gifts. Lots of happiness to you and your family. My sons smile is what gives us energy to do all we do.

Roan Jenkins on

Useful blog post . I was fascinated by the specifics ! Does someone know where my assistant would be able to get a blank IRS 1040 – Schedule C form to use ?

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