Cerebral palsy is often caused by problems that occur before birth, although occasionally injury or illness at the beginning of life can bring about the disorder. If you are ill during pregnancy, this can cause your baby to be born with cerebral palsy. Illnesses associated with the condition are chicken pox, syphilis, rubella, toxoplasmosis, and cytomegalovirus, so be sure to discuss these with your doctor if you are pregnant. Other conditions during pregnancy that interfere with the delivery of oxygen to the fetus's developing brain, such as a prenatal stroke, also cause cerebral palsy. Some illnesses, such as meningitis, that affect the child in infancy can also cause cerebral palsy.
4 AnswersMichael Roizen, MD, Internal Medicine, answeredCerebral palsy, which affects about one in every five hundred newborns, is caused by some kind of brain damage that occurs most often in utero or, much less frequently, during birth. Characterized by motor delay, abnormal movement, or physical issues such as feeding problems or difficulty separating legs during a diaper change, cerebral palsy can't be cured, but therapy (again, the earlier the better) can help improve a child's skills and development.
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Devices that help individuals move about more easily and communicate successfully at home, at school, or in the workplace can help a child or an adult with cerebral palsy overcome physical and communication limitations. There are a number of devices that help individuals stand straight and walk, such as postural support or seating systems, open-front walkers, quadrupedal canes (lightweight metal canes with four feet), and gait poles. Electric wheelchairs enable more severely impaired adults and children to move about successfully.
The computer is probably the most dramatic example of a communication device that can make a big difference in the lives of people with cerebral palsy. Equipped with a computer and a voice synthesizer, a child or an adult with cerebral palsy can communicate successfully with others. For example, a child who is unable to speak or write but can make head movements may control a computer using a special light pointer attached to a headband.
This answer is based on source information from National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
The early signs of cerebral palsy usually appear before a child reaches three years of age. Parents are often the first to suspect that their baby's motor skills are not developing normally. Infants with cerebral palsy frequently have developmental delay, in which they are slow to reach developmental milestones such as learning to roll over, sit, crawl, smile, or walk. Some infants with cerebral palsy have abnormal muscle tone as infants. Decreased muscle tone (hypotonia) can make them appear relaxed, even floppy. Increased muscle tone (hypertonia) can make them seem stiff or rigid. In some cases, an early period of hypotonia progresses to hypertonia after the first two to three months of life. Children with cerebral palsy may also have an unusual posture or favor one side of the body when they move.
Parents who are concerned about their baby's development for any reason should contact their pediatrician. A doctor can determine the difference between a normal lag in development and a delay that can indicate cerebral palsy.
This answer is based on source information from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
The United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) Foundation estimates that nearly 800,000 children and adults in the United States are living with one or more of the symptoms of cerebral palsy. According to the federal government's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year about 10,000 babies born in the United States develop cerebral palsy.
Despite advances in preventing and treating certain causes of cerebral palsy, the percentage of babies who develop the condition has remained the same over the past 30 years. Improved care in neonatal intensive-care units has resulted in a higher survival rate for babies with very low birth weight. Many of these infants have developmental defects in their nervous system or suffer brain damage that cause the characteristic symptoms of cerebral palsy.
This answer is based on source information frm National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
There is no surefire way to prevent cerebral palsy. The best thing to do is take care of yourself and make every effort to stay healthy while you are pregnant, as many cases of cerebral palsy develop before birth. If you are pregnant, be sure you have been immunized against illnesses that can cause brain damage to the fetus.