Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy (CP) is the most common motor disability in childhood, affecting about one in 323 children in the United States. It's caused by brain damage and affects a person's muscle tone, balance, posture, and ability to walk. Many people with CP also have related conditions such as epilepsy and speech or hearing problems.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    • What causes cerebral palsy?

      Cerebral palsy is caused by a brain injury during pregnancy, delivery, or early in a baby’s life. Potential causes of brain damage include:

      • Genetic conditions
      • Metabolic disorders
      • Bacterial meningitis
      • Prenatal infections (e.g., toxoplasmosis, human parvovirus, herpes)
      • Bleeding in the brain
      • Lack of oxygen due to problems with the placenta
      • Folic acid deficiency in the mother
      • Severe jaundice
      • Head trauma
    • Is cerebral palsy genetic?

      Some cases of cerebral palsy are genetic, but the role of genetics isn’t clear. Research has uncovered some genetic patterns related to the condition, including mistakenly repeated portions of genes, but they haven’t found a single gene that appears to be responsible for the disease’s development.

    • Is cerebral palsy progressive?

      Cerebral palsy is not a progressive condition, meaning it doesn’t get worse over time. However, it is a life-long condition that can’t be cured. Long-term symptoms can lead to complications, but many of these can be avoided with proper care and planning.

    Key Terms

    Page Sources
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    1. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Data & statistics for cerebral palsy.

    Additional Reading