cerebral palsy
Hello, and welcome to InfantCerebralPalsy.com, where cerebral palsy is explained in easy-to-understand plain English.

What exactly is cerebral palsy?

Cerebral palsy is a group of related motor disorders related to a brain injury. Symptoms vary in severity, but generally range from involuntary muscle movements to excessive muscle tightness (spasticity). It can affect the entire body, portions of the body, or even just one side.

What causes cerebral palsy?

Cerebal palsy is caused by a brain injury that occurs during fetal development, birth, or within the first 3 years of life. Because cerebral palsy describes a number of conditions, there is no single cause, but it can be caused by:

  • Oxygen or blood deprivation during birth.
  • Infections that affect the brain, such as meningitis.
  • Complications arising from premature birth.
  • Genetic disorders related to brain development.
  • Severe head trauma.

In quite a few cases, unfortunately, the specific cause is unknown.

Is Cerebral palsy a lifelong disorder?

Unfortunately yes, although cerebral palsy does not get worse over time. Symptoms can change or appear as the child gets older, and this is why some babies born with cerebral palsy do not have obvious symptoms right away.

Can cerebral palsy be treated?

To some extent, yes cerebral palsy can be treated, although there is no cure. Treatments include physical therapy, medications (such as antispasmodics or anticonvulsants), special devices (such as braces or splints), therapy to stimulate learning and sensory perception, and more. Please see our treatment page for more information.

Are there resources to help parents cope?

Yes, support groups, therapy, and supportive doctors can help parents deal with raising a child with cerebral palsy. More information is on our coping page.

What increases the risk of cerebral palsy?

Premature birth and low birth weight can play a large role. Approximately half of all children who develop cerebral palsy were born prematurely. Infections occurring within the first six months of pregnancy, such as rubella or toxoplasmosis can also increase the risk, as do infections in the mother's uterus. Proteinuria (when large amounts of protein are found in urine) and alcohol/drug use during pregnancy can also play a role. Trauma and complications during and immediately before birth can also cause cerebral palsy.