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Cerebral Palsy

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                                                                                                              December 12, 2011
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    home > neurology center > neurology a-z list > cerebral palsy index > cerebral palsy article
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                                          Cerebral Palsy                                                                                          


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                                             What are causes of cerebral palsy?
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                                             What are the types of cerebral palsy?
                                             What is spastic cerebral palsy?
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                                             What other conditions are associated with cerebral palsy?
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         pharmacies                       Cerebral Palsy, What You Need To Know
                                          Medical Author: Medical Author: Melissa Stoppler, M.D.
                                          Medical Editor: Barbara K. Hecht, Ph.D.

                                          While some people believe that the term "cerebral palsy" (CP) refers to a specific
                                          disease, it actually refers to a range of disorders involved the control of muscles.
                                          Cerebral palsy can be caused by many different problems. About half a million
                                          people in the US have some form of cerebral palsy.
                                          Cerebral palsy is usually congenital and becomes evident early in life. However, it
                                          can be acquired later, for example, as a result of a head injury. Researchers now
                                          believe that congenital cerebral palsy is caused by faulty cell development in the embryo in the early
                                          stages of pregnancy. Maternal infection with the rubella virus (German measles) during pregnancy
                                          and severe jaundice of the newborn (as from untreated Rh incompatibility) are some of the conditions
                                          that have been associated with the development of cerebral palsy.
                                          Children with cerebral palsy usually show symptoms within the first three years of life.
                                                                                                       Read the rest of the cerebral palsy FAQ »



                                          TOP SEARCHED CEREBRAL PALSY TERMS:
                                          autism, cystic fibrosis, down syndrome,epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, parkinson's disease,spina bifida
What is cerebral palsy?
Cerebral palsy (CP) is an abnormality of motor function (as opposed to mental
function) and postural tone that is acquired at an early age, even before birth. Signs and
symptoms of cerebral palsy usually show in the first year of life.

This abnormality in the motor system is the result of brain lesions that are non-
progressive. The motor system of the body provides the ability to move and control
movements. A brain lesion is any abnormality of brain structure or function. "Non-
progressive" means that the lesion does not produce ongoing degeneration of the brain.
It is also implies that the brain lesion is the result of a one-time brain injury, that will
not occur again. Whatever the brain damage that occurred at the time of the injury is
the extent of damage for the rest of the child's life.

Cerebral palsy affects approximately one to three out of every thousand children born.
However, it is much higher in infants born with very low weight and in premature
infants.

Interestingly, new treatment methods that resulted in an increased survival rate of low-
birth weight and premature infants actually resulted in an overall increase number of
children with cerebral palsy. The new technologies, however, did not change the rate
of cerebral palsy in children born full term and with normal weight.

What are causes of cerebral palsy?
The term cerebral palsy does not indicate the cause or prognosis of the child with
cerebral palsy. There are many possible causes of cerebral palsy.

In full term infants the cause of cerebral palsy is usually prenatal and not related to
events at time of delivery; in most instances it is related to events that happened during
the pregnancy while the fetus is developing inside the mother's womb.

Premature birth is a risk factor for cerebral palsy. The premature brain is at a high risk
of bleeding, and when severe enough, it can result in cerebral palsy. Children that are
born prematurely can also develop serious respiratory distress due to immature and
poorly developed lungs. This can lead to periods of decreased oxygen delivered to the
brain that might result in cerebral palsy. A poorly understood brain process observed in
some premature infants is called periventricular leukomalacia. This is a disorder in
which holes form in the white matter of the premature infant's brain. The white matter
is necessary for the normal processing of signals that are transmitted throughout the
brain, and from the brain to the rest of the body.

White matter abnormalities are observed in many cases of cerebral palsy. Nevertheless,
it is important to recognize that the vast majority of premature infants, even those born
very prematurely, do not suffer from cerebral palsy. There have been many advances
in the field of neonatology (the care and study of problems affecting newborn infants)
which have enhanced the survival of very premature infants.

Other important causes of cerebral palsy include accidents of brain
development, genetic disorders, stroke due to abnormal blood vessels orblood clots, or
    infections of the brain.

    Even though it is widely believed that the most common cause of cerebral palsy is a
    lack of oxygen to the brain during delivery (birth asphyxia), it is actually a very rare
    cause of cerebral palsy. When cerebral palsy is the result of birth asphyxia, the infant
    almost always suffers severe neonatal encephalopathy with symptoms during the first
    few days of life. These symptoms include:

           seizures,

           irritability,

           jitteriness,

           feeding and respiratory problems,

           lethargy, and

           coma depending on the severity.
    In rare instances, obstetrical accidents during particularly difficult deliveries can cause
    brain damage and result in cerebral palsy. Conversely, it is very unlikely that cerebral
    palsy symptoms would develop after a few years of age as a result of obstetrical
    complications.

    Child abuse during infancy can cause significant brain damage which, in turn, can lead
    to cerebral palsy. This abuse often takes the form of severe shaking from a frustrated
    parent or caregiver, causing hemorrhage in or just outside the brain. To further
    compound the problem, many children with developmental abnormalities are at risk for
    being abused. Thus, a child with cerebral palsy may be made significantly worse or
    even killed by a single incident of abuse.

    Despite the diversity of causes of cerebral palsy, many cases remain without a defined
    cause. However, the enhanced ability to see the brain structure with magnetic
    resonance imaging (MRI) and CT scans as well as improved diagnostic capabilities for
    genetic disorders has made the number of such cases much lower.


    Next: What are the types of cerebral palsy?

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   Cerebral Palsy Index
   Glossary




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