Cerebral palsy (CP) is the name of a group of disorders of the central nervous system that affect a person's capability to control body movement and coordination. These disorders usually appear in infancy or early childhood. They're not contagious and aren't progressive; that is, they do not get worse over time even though the disabilities are permanent.
CP refers to various injuries to the brain that can happen during pregnancy or at any point during a child's first three years of life. The severity of symptoms varies considerably; some kids are only mildly affected while others are almost completely disabled.
Although problems with movement and coordination are the defining characteristics of cerebral palsy, 30-50 percent of patients diagnosed with CP are also mentally retarded, and 15-60 percent have epilepsy. Other patients have problems with vision and hearing. Doctors distinguish four fundamental kinds of cerebral palsy according to the nature of the movement disorder involved.
According to the Centers for Illness Control and Prevention (CDC), about twenty-three kids in every 10,000 in the United States have cerebral palsy. Each year about 10,000 kids are born in the United States with symptoms of CP. The United Cerebral Palsy Foundation estimates that nearly 800,000 kids and adults in the United States are living with one or more of the symptoms of the disorder. Cerebral palsy affects children of all races and ethnic groups; nevertheless, boys appear to be at slightly higher risk than girls. You will find about 135 boys with cerebral palsy for every 100 girls with the disorder. Since the 1960s, doctors have identified a number of risk factors for cerebral palsy:
At one time it was thought that cerebral palsy was caused by difficulties in childbirth that cut off the flow of oxygen to the baby's brain lengthy sufficient to cause brain damage. However, birth complications are now thought to account for only 5-10 percent of instances of CP. It now appears that most instances of CP begin before the baby's birth and are the end result of a number of various factors ranging from genetic mutations to infections and trauma. Doctors have identified four various kinds of brain injury that may give rise to CP:
Other early symptoms of CP might include scissors movements of the legs or other abnormal movements, or reflexes that persist long after they disappear in normally developing children. Other symptoms of CP may include:
There is no single laboratory or imaging test that could be used to diagnose cerebral palsy. The diagnosis is based on a thorough physical examination of the child and a detailed history of the mother's pregnancy and childbirth. The baby's parents will probably be asked for a complete medical history of both the mother's and father's families; the mother's medical problems or infections (if any) before and during pregnancy; and a detailed account of the pregnancy, labor, and delivery.
The parents will also be asked to describe the baby's early mental and physical development. Even though CP is frequently present at birth, it is difficult to evaluate during the first six to nine months of the child's life. Most children with cerebral palsy are diagnosed between one and two years of age. The doctor might order numerous tests and imaging studies in order to rule out other possible causes of the baby's symptoms.
There's no cure for cerebral palsy. Treatments for kids with CP are individualized because the symptoms vary so much from one child to an additional; they also frequently change over time as a child grows older. The various types of treatments and therapies that a child with cerebral palsy may need include:
The prognosis for individuals with cerebral palsy depends in component on the severity of their symptoms and also the parts of the body that are affected by the brain damage. Those with mild symptoms have a normal life expectancy; nevertheless, those with severe problems have a shortened life span. It's estimated that about 25 percent of children with CP have very couple of limitations on their activities; they can complete school and eventually live independently. An additional 50 percent can discover to walk, feed, and clothe themselves, and take care of their body functions but cannot live without some form of part-time help from other people. Only 25 percent are so severely disabled that they require extensive care and can't discover to walk.
Many cases of cerebral palsy can't be prevented. A pregnant woman can, however, lower her risk of having a child with the disorder by quitting smoking, drinking alcohol, and using drugs during pregnancy all of these increase the risk of giving birth prematurely. She ought to also be tested for immunity to rubella before becoming pregnant and get immunized against the disease if she isn't already immune.
The number of people in the United States affected by cerebral palsy has increased since the 1960s. This increase might be due to the reality that larger numbers of premature infants are surviving. Many of these infants will have nervous system defects or suffer brain damage that causes the characteristic symptoms of cerebral palsy. Research is concentrated on ways to detect damage to a baby's brain before birth. Researchers hope that information supplied by new approaches to early diagnosis may eventually lead to new treatments for the disorder.
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