Cerebral palsy results from damage to certain parts of the developing brain.
•This damage can occur early in pregnancy when the brain is just starting to form, during the birth process as the child passes through the birth canal, or after birth in the first few years of life. •In many cases, the exact cause of the brain damage is never known. At one time, problems during birth, usually inadequate oxygen, were blamed for cerebral palsy.
•We now know that fewer than 10% of cases of cerebral palsy begin during birth (perinatal). •In fact, current thinking is that at least 70% to 80% of cases of cerebral palsy begin before birth (prenatal). •Some cases begin after birth (postnatal).
•In all likelihood, many cases of cerebral palsy are a result of a combination of prenatal, perinatal, and postnatal factors. Risk factors linked with cerebral palsy include the following:
•Infection, seizure disorder, thyroid disorder, and/or other medical problems in the mother •Birth defects, especially those affecting the brain, spinal cord, head, face, lungs, or metabolism •Rh factor incompatibility, a difference in the blood between mother and fetus that can cause brain damage in the fetus (Fortunately, this is almost always detected and treated in women who receive proper prenatal medical care.) •Certain hereditary and genetic conditions
•Complications during labor and delivery
•Low birth weight (especially if less than 2 pounds at birth) •Severe jaundice after birth
•Multiple births (twins, triplets)
•Lack of oxygen (hypoxia) reaching the brain before, during, or after birth •Brain damage early in life, due to infection (such as meningitis), head injury, lack of oxygen, or bleeding