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What Causes Cerebral Palsy?

Birth Trauma, Delivery Mistakes and Infections

Cerebral palsy (CP) is an umbrella term that refers to a group of disorders that impede the brain’s control of movement. While not all causes of CP are known there are a few established conditions and events related to childbirth that are known causes. One common example is a lack of oxygen to a child’s brain during childbirth, which is credited as the cause of close to 10% of all cerebral palsy cases.

If a child is not delivered in a timely manner, a obstetrician fails to convert to a Cesarean section, or used forceps or a vacuum extractor incorrectly, the child may end up with cerebral palsy. Another cause of CP is jaundice that goes untreated for too long, resulting in Kernicterus, which can then result in cerebral palsy. Drug or alcohol use by the mother during pregnancy has been shown to lead to CP. Finally, infections in pregnant women, brain infections in the child, or head injuries to the child can all lead to cerebral palsy.

How are Birth Injuries Connected to Cerebral Palsy?

It is a sad fact that most cases of cerebral palsy are preventable with the correct diligence and intervention by a health care professional. In some cases it can be difficult to determine the cause of CP, early or late delivery, incorrect medication, and failure to use the appropriate birthing method account for a large majority of cerebral palsy cases.

According to studies, the main causes of cerebral palsy relate to:

  • Forceps delivery
  • Vacuum extraction delivery
  • Exceptionally prolonged labor
  • Low levels of amniotic fluid
  • Twisted, compressed, or tangled umbilical cord
  • Macrosomia or a baby that is too big for its development
  • Placental abruption
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Failure to convert to a C-section

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