What Causes Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral palsy occurs when the cerebral cortex—the outer part of the brain—develops abnormally or is damaged. Abnormal development or damage may be caused by a variety of factors, including gene mutations, trauma, or infection. Unfortunately, cerebral palsy is still not a completely understood disorder. While it was once assumed that it was primarily caused by a lack of oxygen at birth, researchers now believe that this only represents a fraction of all cases.
Risk Factors for Congenital Cerebral Palsy
Although we still don’t have a solid grasp on the exact cause of cerebral palsy, there are known risk factors for congenital cerebral palsy, including:
- Genetic abnormalities
- Low birth weight and/or premature birth
- Multiple births (twins, triplets, etc.)
- Infertility treatments
- Congenital brain malformation
- Fetal injury
Risk Factors for Acquired Cerebral Palsy
Acquired cerebral palsy may develop over the course of a child’s first few months or years of life. Risk factors include:
- Brain infections, like bacterial meningitis or viral encephalitis
- Insufficient blood flow to the brain, possibly due to stroke or blood clotting problems
- Head injury