Cerebral Palsy Risk Factors


Cerebral palsy is caused by damage to the brain’s development before or during birth, and up to one year or so after birth. This damage affects a child’s ability to control his or her muscles. Cerebral palsy due to brain damage that occurred before or during birth is called congenital CP. The majority of CP diagnoses (85%–90%) are congenital. Here are some of the risk factors for cerebral palsy:

Low Birthweight

  • Less than 3⅓ pounds – 59 diagnoses of CP per 1,000 births.
  • 3⅓ to 5½ pounds – 6 diagnoses of CP per 1,000 births.
  • Over 5½ pounds – 1 diagnosis of CP per 1,000 births.

Premature Birth

  • Babies born at 28 to 31 weeks gestation – 44 diagnoses of CP per 1,000 births.
  • Babies born at 32 to 36 weeks gestation – 6 diagnoses of CP per 1,000 births.
  • Babies born at 37 or more weeks gestation – 1 diagnosis of CP per 1,000 births.

Disruption of Blood and Oxygen Supply

  • Blood clots forming in a developing brain can deny critical nutrients and oxygen to the brain, leading to damage that can result in CP. This can occur during or after pregnancy.
  • Disruption of the baby’s oxygen supply during birth can lead to brain damage, resulting in cerebral palsy.

Infection Among Mothers

    • Chorioamnionitis, also known as intra-amniotic infection, is an inflammation of the fetal membranes due to bacterial infection. This, as well as other blood-borne infections, has been associated with an increased risk of cerebral palsy, accounting for 12% of spastic CP diagnoses among full-term births, and up to 28% for premature births.

If you think your child has or may have cerebral palsy because of something that happened at birth, please fill out the form on the Birth Injury Web official website..