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What is the cause of CP?

Cerebral Palsy (CP) is caused by abnormalities or injuries of the brain that may develop in utero, during delivery or immediately following birth.  Rather than one particular cause for this life-changing medical complication, it is important to understand that the reasons for the development of CP may derive from a one or more of the following contributing factors.

Hypoxia during delivery

One common cause of CP is hypoxia, or low levels of oxygen in localized areas of the brain.  However, few babies who experience a lack of oxygen during birth actually go on to develop cerebral palsy.

Bleeding in brain

CP can also be caused by brain bleeding, infection, injury, raised temperature during pregnancy, severe jaundice, multiple births, blood type incompatibility, exposure to toxic substances, and complicated labor/delivery. Low birth weight babies or premature babies are more likely to suffer problems leading to CP. However, in many cases, doctors are not sure what causes cerebral palsy.

The four main causes of brain damage include:

  • Damage to the brain’s white matter (responsible for sending signals from the brain to the rest of the body)
  • Abnormal brain development (can cause problems with transmission of signals from brain)
  • Brain damage caused by lack of oxygen (hypoxia – low oxygen levels resulting in tissue damage to the brain)
  • Bleeding in the brain (caused by broken or blocked blood vessels)

While there is no cure for CP, treatment such as occupation or physical therapy, medicine, surgery, and braces can help treat symptoms.

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