Cerebral Palsy Risk Factors

Cerebral palsy results from abnormal brain development, intracranial hemorrhage, significant oxygen deprivation, damage to the brain’s white matter or injury to other brain components related to movement. Frequently, the neurological disorder is congenital, but causal brain damage may occur shortly before or after birth regardless of when cerebral palsy symptoms are detected or diagnosed. Most instances of the disorder carry no definite cause; however, medical and research communities utilize scientific studies and historical data to pinpoint the various pre and post-birth risk factors associated with the disorder.

Pre and Post-Birth Risk Factors for Developing Cerebral Palsy

  • Premature birth cuts short fundamental development processes that are typically occurring in the womb, increasing the risk of improper brain development and malformation. Children born early in the gestational period are particularly at risk; although, all infants born before 37 weeks of pregnancy qualify as premature.
  • Infants under 5.5 pound are most likely to experience greater risk of cerebral palsy development in comparison to heavier children. Though it is not the only cause of low birth weight, premature birth is often directly linked to below average body weight.
  • Multiple simultaneous births, even for infants carried to term, significantly escalates the possibility of cerebral palsy development, particularly if a single sibling dies during or after the time of delivery.
  • Infection and fever in pregnant mothers pose significant risk to the unborn child as both frequently accompany inflammation. Inflammatory responses may inhibit or adversely affect nervous system development in fetuses, resulting in physical or cognitive impairment in the child or children. Furthermore, bacterial and viral infections can travel into the womb and placenta, infecting the unborn child directly.
  • Rh incompatibility develops when the infant’s Rh blood type, denoting positivity or negativity, differs from the mothers, resulting in the mother’s antibodies attacking the infant’s blood cells. The involuntary immune response may lead to congenital brain injury in the child.
  • Exposure to toxic materials, substances or chemicals during pregnancy heightens the risk of neurological and congenital disorders in fetuses. Methyl mercury, lead, and certain noxious fumes frequently cause damage to unborn children, particularly when exposure is frequent or extended.
  • The existence and severity of preexisting conditions in pregnant mothers may adversely affect the infant’s ability to grow and develop in the womb, possibly resulting in significant mental or physical impairment during childhood and adult life. In particular, intellectual disability, seizure disorders, thyroid abnormalities and conditions with the symptomatic excess protein present in urinary excretions increase the likelihood of unborn children developing the neurological disorder.
  • Infants with cerebral palsy have a higher prevalence of breech positioning, or feet-first orientation, resulting in increased risk of complications during birth and necessitating the need for cesarean section.

Post Birth High-Risk Factors for Cerebral Palsy Include:

  • Labor and delivery complications involving respiratory or vascular issues can incite brain abnormalities, injury or damage due to lack of blood flow and oxygen to the brain for extended instances.
  • Each gestational period establishes parameters regarding fetus size and characteristics to monitor healthy development and allows early identification of potential medical issues. Children below the normal size relative to gestational period averages show an increased risk for cerebral palsy development.
  • Medical professional should monitor closely a newborns’ physical health utilizing the Apgar score, an assessment measuring muscle tone, heart rate, skin color, breathing and reflexes directly following birth. Low scores in the initial 10 to 20 minutes after birth generally indicates potential congenital issues, such as cerebral palsy.
  • Jaundice, a condition resulting in yellowing whites of the eyes and skin, develops in over 50 percent of newborns as the substance bilirubin overwhelms infant’s ability to break in down and remove via the liver in the infant’s potentially underdeveloped body system. Severe and untreated instances of jaundice may cause brain cell damage, resulting in conditions like deafness or cerebral palsy.

 What to Do if You Suspect Your Child Might Exhibit One or More High Risk Factors for Cerebral Palsy

It is urgent that parents’ suspecting birth injury, loss of oxygen, or any other traumatic brain injury to the infant, or following later observation, notice the warning signs of cerebral palsy, consulting immediately with medical professionals, and then speaking directly to legal counsel is highly advised.

 

References:

 

http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/cerebral_palsy/detail_cerebral_palsy.htm

http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/cp/data.html

 

 

 

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