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What are the early signs of cerebral palsy?

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.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.