Cerebral Palsy Awareness: United Cerebral Palsy · Cerebral Palsy Foundation · Donate · New Jersey Resources
Cerebral palsy is a group of conditions that affect muscle control and movement, and is caused by damage to the developing brain. It is not a hereditary condition, not a disease, nor is it contagious.
In most cases, the brain injury which leads to the development of cerebral palsy occurs when the infant is deprived of blood flow (oxygen) to the brain during pregnancy, during delivery or shortly after birth. This can be caused by improper fetal distress signal monitoring, a failure to recognize known health risks, improper birthing techniques, or other types of medical malpractice.
A low Apgar Score at 10-20 minutes after delivery may indicate neurological injuries in a newborn, but this alone is not enough to make a diagnosis. Two early indicators of cerebral palsy in infants would be abnormal muscle tone and/or the tendency to favor one side of the body over the other.
A parent or caregiver is usually the first person to notice an infant’s early symptoms of cerebral palsy. At first, a parent may dismiss or repress the idea that anything is truly wrong. Parents often chalk up their child’s missed development milestones to being a “late bloomer.”
Other early symptoms of cerebral palsy in infants involve poor control over mouth muscles (including swallowing and sucking), the inability to support the head, excessive leg crossing, or other unusual body positions. Excessive vomiting, gagging or other feeding problems may sometimes point to other more advanced issues.
It is difficult to detect cerebral palsy until children start reaching certain developmental milestones. However, specific kinds of cerebral palsy do have some early indicators.
As many as half of all children with cerebral palsy suffer from seizures, often caused by epilepsy. Other common complications that individuals with cerebral palsy might experience as they grow up include hip dislocation, curvature of the spine, incontinence, tooth decay, skin sores, and asthma.
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