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Cerebral palsy is a group of brain and nervous system disorders resulting in permanent physical and developmental disabilities. The condition can involve limitations in movement, muscle tone and posture, attention, behavior, communication, and sensation. There can be associated cognitive dysfunction. While cerebral palsy is a permanent condition, it is non-progressive, meaning the child’s disabilities will not worsen over time.
What are the Causes of Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral palsy is the result of damage to the developing brain. A child may experience injury to the brain before, during, or after birth in the following ways:
- Brain bleeding
- Brain infections
- Suffocation during birth
- Head trauma during delivery
- In-utero exposure to mothers’ infections
- Severe jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes)
Premature infants with very low birth weight are at significant risk of cerebral palsy
Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy
- Abnormal and/or involuntary motor movements
- Muscle weakness
- Tight muscles and joints/spacisity
- Lack of coordination and balance
- Feeding and swallowing difficulties
- Hearing, visual, and speech problems
How is Cerebral Palsy Diagnosed?
Cerebral palsy is usually diagnosed in the first few years of life. For some children, symptoms may not be identified until after infancy due to ongoing development of motor, speech, and cognitive skills. If a child has severe symptoms, a diagnosis may be made shortly after birth.
Several factors contribute to a diagnosis of cerebral palsy. A doctor may test a child’s muscle tone, reflexes, and movement for abnormalities. Closely monitoring a child’s ability or inability to meet certain developmental milestones may also aid in the diagnosis.