What Causes Cerebral Palsy?

How does CP Occur?

Cerebral Palsy arises from abnormal development of or damage to the outer part of the brain called the cerebral cortex. This abnormal development or damage may be caused by anything from gene mutations to trauma, or infection and is, unfortunately, still not a completely understood disorder. While it was once assumed that CP was primarily caused by a lack of oxygen at birth, researchers are beginning to realize that this only represents a fraction of all cases.

What Causes Congenital Cerebral Palsy?

Although we still don’t have a solid grasp on the exact cause of Cerebral Palsy, there are known risk factors that contribute to congenital CP including:

  • Genetic abnormalities
  • Low birth weight and/or premature birth
  • Multiple births (twins, triplets, and so on)
  • Infertility treatments
  • Congenital brain malformation
  • Fetal injury

What Causes Acquired Cerebral Palsy?

As the other main category of Cerebral Palsy; acquired CP is thought to develop from risk factors experienced over the course of a child’s early months or years of life. These factors include:

  • Brain infections like bacterial meningitis or viral encephalitis
  • Blood flow problems to the brain, possibly due to stroke or blood clotting problems
  • Head injury

What body parts are affected by Cerebral Palsy

When it comes to CP, an overall negative impact on the child’s muscle coordination, muscle control, balance, posture, and muscle reflex may be expected. Many children with CP will struggle with mobility because of the condition, but it depends on the type of CP as well as the severity. It is not uncommon for children to develop a clawed hand or a limp as a result. Also common is instability while walking.

an overall negative impact on the child’s muscle coordination, muscle control, balance, posture, and muscle reflex may be expected.

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Rae S, Editor

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Elena Amato Borrelli, Expert

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Article Citations

  1. CDC
  2. https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/cerebral-palsy/conditioninfo/causes
  3. Cerebral Palsy Foundation