CP is more common in premature and low-birth-weight babies. It is also more common in multiple births, such as twins or triplets. Other things that may raise the risk are:
- Infection in the membranes and fluid around the fetus
- Injury to the brain from lack of oxygen
- A bacterial infection in the blood of an infant
- Inflammation of the membranes around the brain and spinal cord
Problems are different in each child. They may also change over time. The first sign is often when a child does not meet a milestone, such as rolling over. Signs often appear in children before 3 years of age.
These common problems may be mild or severe:
- Problems swallowing
- Moving the body without control
- Stiff or floppy muscles
- Problems walking or standing
- Learning problems
- Speech problems
There is no cure for CP. The goal is to help the child reach his or her fullest ability. A child will need care from pediatricians, specialists, physical therapists, and counselors. Common treatments are:
Speech, physical, and occupational therapy may help a child speak, move, walk, and do activities of daily living. Physical therapy also helps strengthen muscles and helps with fitness.
Braces and splints may be used to ease muscle spasms and keep limbs in line. Walkers, scooters, and wheelchairs make it easier to move around.
Medicine may be used to help ease symptoms, such as tight muscles.
Some children may need surgery to help them sit, stand, and walk. These may be tendon transfers or lengthening, joint loosening, bone straightening, and nerve surgery.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
Edits to original content made by Denver Health.
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Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics https://www.healthychildren.org
United Cerebral Palsy http://www.ucp.org
Health Canada https://www.canada.ca
Ontario Federation for Cerebral Palsy http://www.ofcp.ca
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Cerebral palsy (CP). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/cp/index.html. Updated September 23, 2019. Accessed January 9, 2020.
Cerebral palsy information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Cerebral-Palsy-Information-Page. Updated March 27, 2019. Accessed January 9, 2020.
National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guideline on cerebral palsy in under 25s: assessment and management. NICE 2017 Jan:NG62.
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