Cerebral palsy is not one disease with a single origin, like chicken pox
or measles. It is a group of disorders that are related but probably stem from a number of different causes. When physicians
diagnose cerebral palsy in an individual child, they look at risk factors, the symptoms, the mother's and child's medical
history, and the onset of the disorder.
About 10 to 20 percent of children who have cerebral palsy acquire the disorder after birth, while many more cases are
caused by an incident that occurs during pregnancy or birth. Acquired cerebral palsy is the result of brain damage in the
first few months or years of life. Common causes of brain damage are sickness-such as bacterial meningitis, viral encephalitis,
or even jaundice. Another common cause is head injury-such as from a motor vehicle accident, a fall, or child abuse.
When a baby is "born" with cerebral palsy, the causes may be due to avoidable or unavoidable incidents that occurred
during pregnancy or birth.
Causes: During Pregnancy
Cerebral Palsy can also be caused by things that happen during pregnancy which cause permanent damage to the fetus.
Certain bacterial and viral infections can damage the fetus
during pregnancy. More commonly, untreated or maltreated maternal infections can induce premature labor and delivery. These
newborn babies may suffer the consequences of brain damage from infection directly, or they may be damaged as a direct result
of prematurity. Sometimes the mother can be unaware of the source of the infection if it goes undetected by her health care
provider. Maternal infections such as German measles (or rubella), cytomegalovirus and toxoplasmosis, can cross the placenta
and infect the fetus as well, causing damage to the developing nervous system.
Improper Dating of the Pregnancy
One of the most important influences in prenatal
care is the accurate dating of a pregnancy. Ultrasounds have made the estimation of due dates far more reliable. Failure to
properly date the pregnancy may result in either premature delivery or post-mature delivery, both of which may be responsible
for brain damage to your newborn baby.