Cerebral palsy or 'CP'  means weakness or lack of muscle control. CP is a group of different medical conditions which usually affect a person's ability to keep posture or maintain balance due to abnormal brain development leading to a person's ability to control her or his muscles.

CP is a group of disorders that can involve brain and nervous system functions, such as movement, learning, hearing, seeing, and thinking. There are several different types of cerebral palsy, including spastic, dyskinetic, ataxic, hypotonic, and mixed. Although cerebral palsy is a permanent condition, a child with this condition can achieve greater control over movement, as they learn and practice motor skills.

In general, about 1 in 300 children in the United States has cerebral palsy. Cerebral Palsy is the most common motor disability in childhood. 

Facts about Cerebral Palsy:

  • It is more common among Black children than White children. 
  • It is more common among boys than girls.
  • Many of the children with CP also have at least one co-occurring condition—41% have co-occurring epilepsy and almost 7% have co-occurring autism spectrum disorder.
  • It occurs more often in preterm than in term born children

Causes of Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral Palsy is caused by abnormal development of the brain or damage to the developing brain. People used to think that CP was mainly caused by lack of oxygen during the birth process, but now we know this is only a small percent of all cases and there are several other possible causes of the abnormal development or damage.

The brain damage can happen:

  • before birth
  • during birth
  • within a month after birth, or
  • during the first years of a child’s life

The majority of CP (85%–90%) is congenital, meaning it happened before birth. In many cases, the specific cause is not known.

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