Understanding Birth Defects

Birth Defect: Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is not curable. Improvements can be made with proper physical and occupational therapy.

Birth Defect: Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy can occur at birth when there is brain damage or it can occur anytime in the first few years of life.

Cerebral palsy affects the child's ability to move. The damage that causes movement impairment can occur during the fetal development stage, during the birthing process or can be caused by brain damage that occurs in the first few years of life.

Cerebral palsy can be mild, moderate or severe.


Weakness and floppiness of muscles

Spasticity or rigidity of muscles

Neurological disorders such as mental retardation or seizures

Cerebral palsy is not curable. Improvements can be made with proper physical and occupational therapy.

Involuntary muscle movement

Lack of muscle coordination

Exaggerated reflexes

Asymmetrical walking gait with one foot or leg dragging

Variations in muscle tone

Excessive drooling

Causes Birth Defects

Fight Birth Defects With Good Nutrition The Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis researchers have discovered that there is a connection between what pregnant women eat and how their genetic makeup is designed. This information is important because a personalized menu during pregnancy that is designed to be compatible with a pregnant woman's genetic makeup may benefit her unborn baby and help prevent birth defects.

Difficulties swallowing, sucking or speaking


Difficulties with motions that are precise like, writing, buttoning or zipping

Some have mental retardation

Children with cerebral palsy can be very intelligent as well as some may have mental retardation. Some children may appear physically normal and others may require a wheelchair or leg braces. Some require no assistance at all to walk.


Spastic cerebral palsy - This is the more common type of cerebral palsy. This form of cerebral palsy causes muscles to stiffen, which makes movement difficult. It can cause both of the child's legs to become spastic (spastic diplegia) or it can make the entire side of the body become spastic (spastic hemiplegia). The most severe cases are when all four limbs (arms and legs) and the truck of the body are spastic (spastic quadriplegia).

Athetotic cerebral palsy - This is often referred to as extrapyramidal cerebral palsy. It affects the entire body and if often manifested in uncontrolled and slow movements.

Ataxic cerebral palsy - This is the least common type of cerebral palsy. This is when balance and coordination is affected.

Children can have symptoms of more than one type of cerebral palsy, which is referred to as having a mixed form of cerebral palsy.

Cerebral palsy does not worsen with age.


Cerebral palsy can result from an injury to the cerebrum (largest area of brain). Some children acquire cerebral palsy after an illness as a small child; such as bacterial meningitis. Some children develop cerebral palsy after a head injury.

Head injuries can also be received during the birthing process and cerebral palsy result. It is believed that only a small number of cases of cerebral palsy actually are attributed to problems at birth or related to fetal injury.

Congenital causes for cerebral palsy:

Doctors and researchers have been able to identify some underlying causes for congenital cerebral palsy that include:

Maternal infection during the pregnancy such as rubella or some other viral infection.

ABO or Rh incompatibility that occurs when the blood of the mother and the blood of the fetus are incompatible.

Abnormal brain development before birth, which may have genetic or metabolic connections.

Disturbances in brain circulation before birth, which can be caused by an artery spasm or a blood clot, similar to a stroke.

Better Your Health

Types of Birth Defects Explained
▫  Birth Defect-- Cerebral Palsy
▫  Birth Defect--Cleft Lip-Palate
▫  Birth Defect--Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
▫  Birth Defect--Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome
▫  Birth Defect--Phenylketonuria
▫  Birth Defect--Spina Bifida
▫  Birth Defects and the Fight to Prevent Them
▫  Exploring Common Birth Defects
▫  Fight Birth Defects With Good Nutrition
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