Cerebral Palsy is a broad term for several different types of disorders that occur when there has been significant damage to the brain which affects motor skills and posture. There are several types and severities of cerebral palsy as well as many different possible symptoms and causes. Cerebral palsy affects every person differently but is always non-progressive, non-contagious and it can never be inherited. Cerebral palsy cannot be cured but can be managed and many times people with cerebral palsy can live a full life expectancy, depending on the severity of the disorder. Most people with cerebral palsy have problems with motor control and coordination, and many but not all have cognitive impairments as well. About ten-thousand babies develop cerebral palsy annually in the United States.
Most people affected by cerebral palsy are born with it, but it can often go unnoticed for weeks, months and sometimes even years. Sometimes complications during birth or head trauma soon after birth can also cause cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy is never inherited; it is caused by environmental factors or random gene mutations in the brain. Sometimes doctors do not know what exactly caused a person to be affected by cerebral palsy. Before birth cerebral palsy can be caused by: infections in the mother such as rubella, asphyxia (a lack of oxygen reaching the brain), brain malformations, random gene mutations and blood diseases or blood incompatibility between the parents of the fetus. During birth a baby may end up with cerebral palsy because of asphyxia or bleeding in the brain, which occurs often in premature babies. Premature babies are at a higher risk for developing cerebral palsy. After birth cerebral palsy can still come about in cases of severe head trauma, severe jaundice which leads to brain damage, asphyxia or brain diseases such as meningitis. Only about ten percent of cases of cerebral palsy occur after birth.