As a parent, you probably want more than anything else for your child to turn out healthy and strong. When a woman is pregnant, she may worry about congenital disabilities, and the spouse or partner might as well if they are in the picture. It’s always a relief when a baby comes out in perfect health.

However, it’s by no means a poor idea for the expectant parents to learn a little bit about some ailments that a baby can have. That way, they will know what to expect if their child does have one of these conditions.

Cerebral palsy is one condition a child can develop, and we’ll delve into it a bit in this article.

Cerebral Palsy is Usually Congenital

Cerebral palsy is a disorder variety. It affects a child’s developing brain, and it also hinders coordination, posture, balance, and muscle movements. It can also affect:

  • Vision
  • Sensation
  • Speech
  • Hearing

It is not all that uncommon. The CDC says that doctors find it in 1.5 to 4 out of every 1,000 infants nationwide. It is also often congenital, which means that it is present from birth.

However, some children can also develop it. This frequently happens when there’s a difficult birth with significant head trauma.

It Can Manifest Itself in Various Ways

A doctor can run various cerebral palsy tests to determine whether a child does have the condition. They might see clues, such as:

  • Low birthweight
  • Gene mutations

If the child does not get all the oxygen they need during birth, that can cause it. Maternal infection during pregnancy can as well. A hemorrhage or infant brain infection can cause it in non-congenital situations. Doctors see it with boys more often than girls.

Developmental Interruption Often Reveals It

There is a term that doctors use, developmental interruption, which often indicates a developing child issue. You want a child to say their first word at a certain point, smile at you when they recognize you, raise their head, etc. If a child cannot or does not do those things, that often lets you know they’re not developing as they should be.

Cerebral palsy does not usually let a child develop as they should and hit these milestones. You can generally tell a child has cerebral palsy before they turn three, though a doctor must confirm it.

The brain is still developing up to three years old. Most medical professionals will diagnose cerebral palsy up to age two or so. If your child has a milder case, though, a later diagnosis is definitely possible.

There Are Some Common Warning Signs

There are several potential cerebral palsy warning signs. If a child is six months or younger, and they cannot reach for objects, or they have trouble swallowing, those can be two of them. If they cannot easily move their eyes or mouth, that’s another one.

They might not react to lights or noise. They might seem unnaturally stiff, or they may flop around as though they cannot control their limbs. Poor muscle control or reflexes also indicate you should get a doctor to look at your child.

There Are Additional Later Warning Signs

If you’re uncertain about whether your child has it up to six months, there are also other telltale signs after that. A child might have jerky movements or spasms. They might not show the proper emotional or social development when other human beings are around.

They may not be able to stand on their own at the time when the average child would. They might not crawl, or they might do so with great difficulty. They might not seem to recognize objects and people like the average baby would.

They might favor one side over the other or have poor coordination. They might not be able to roll over, sit up, or test out their motor skills as you’d expect a young child to attempt.

People can live with cerebral palsy, though they may need help to do so. It depends on the condition’s severity. Some individuals with cerebral palsy can live on their own, while others end up in group homes where they have caretakers to assist them.

If you’re looking at congenital cerebral palsy, there is nothing a parent can do about it. It’s basically the luck of the draw. However, if a doctor harmed the child’s brain during birth or something along those lines, the parents can certainly consider a lawsuit against that doctor or hospital.

Cite this article as:
Editorial Staff, "5 Things Parents Should Know About Cerebral Palsy," in Medicalopedia, December 15, 2020, [Permalink: https://www.medicalopedia.org/9454/5-things-parents-should-know-about-cerebral-palsy/].