Cerebral palsy

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Overview

The presentation of cerebral palsy can be global mental and physical dysfunction or isolated disturbances in gait, cognition, growth, or sensation. It is the most common childhood physical disability and affects 2 to 2.5 children per 1,000 born in the United States. The differential diagnosis of cerebral palsy includes metabolic and genetic disorders. The goals of treatment are to improve functionality and capabilities toward independence. Multispecialty treatment teams should be developed around the needs of each patient to provide continuously updated global treatment care plans. Complications of cerebral palsy include spasticity and contractures; feeding difficulties; drooling; communication difficulties; osteopenia; osteoporosis; fractures; pain; and functional gastrointestinal abnormalities contributing to bowel obstruction, vomiting, and constipation. Valid and reliable assessment tools to establish baseline functions and monitor developmental gains have contributed to an increasing body of evidenced-based recommendations for cerebral palsy. Many of the historical treatments for this ailment are being challenged, and several new treatment modalities are available. Adult morbidity and mortality from ischemic heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, cancer, and trauma are higher in patients with cerebral palsy than in the general population.

Symptoms

Symptoms

Stiff muscles and exaggerated reflexes (spasticity), the most common movement disorder.

Variations in muscle tone, such as being either too stiff or too floppy.

Stiff muscles with normal reflexes (rigidity)

Lack of balance and muscle coordination (ataxia)

Tremors or jerky involuntary movements.delays in reaching development milestones – for example, not sitting by 8 months or not walking by 18 months.

seeming too stiff or too floppy (hypotonia)

weak arms or legs.

fidgety, jerky or clumsy movements.

random, uncontrolled movements.

muscle spasms.

shaking hands (tremors)

Causes

Cerebral palsy is usually caused by a problem that affects the development of a baby's brain while it's growing in the womb. These include: damage to part of the brain called white matter, possibly as a result of a reduced blood or oxygen supply – this is known as periventricular leukomalacia (PVL)

Causes

Gene mutations that result in genetic disorders or differences in brain development.

Maternal infections that affect the developing fetus.

Fetal stroke, a disruption of blood supply to the developing brain.

Bleeding into the brain in the womb or as a newborn.

Risk factors

The risk factors for cerebral palsy

Low birth weight or preterm birth. ...

Multiple gestations. ...

Infertility treatments. ...

Infections during pregnancy. ...

Fever during pregnancy. ...

Blood factor between mother and fetus does not match. ...

Exposure to toxic chemicals. ...

Maternal medical conditions:

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Complications

CP can cause a variety of physical problems due to abnormalities in movement. People with CP may also feel isolated, which can lead to mental health conditions like depression or anxiety.


The following are potential complications of cerebral palsy:


premature aging

malnutrition

depression

anxiety

heart and lung diseases

osteoarthritis

chronic pain

scoliosis

Prevention

Most cases of cerebral palsy can't be prevented, but you can reduce risks. If you're pregnant or planning to become pregnant, you can take these steps to keep healthy and minimize pregnancy complications:


Make sure you're vaccinated. Getting vaccinated against diseases such as rubella, preferably before getting pregnant, might prevent an infection that could cause fetal brain damage.

Take care of yourself. The healthier you are heading into a pregnancy, the less likely you'll be to develop an infection that results in cerebral palsy.

Seek early and continuous prenatal care. Regular visits to your doctor during your pregnancy are a good way to reduce health risks to you and your unborn baby. Seeing your doctor regularly can help prevent premature birth, low birth weight and infections.

Avoid alcohol, tobacco and illegal drugs. These have been linked to cerebral palsy risk.