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Cerebral Palsy Risk Factors - Medical Negligence Compensation Solicitors

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Cerebral Palsy Risk Factors

It is important to understand that risk factors for cerebral palsy are not “causes”. Risk factors are simply issues that can increase the chance of something happening. The presence of a risk factor does not automatically mean your child will develop cerebral palsy. That said, the complete absence of risk factors does not mean your child will not develop cerebral palsy. Risk factors are just a method to alert parents and health care professionals to be more watchful and aware during infant development. There are certain risk factors that can be associated with the parents or the child. To give you a better understanding of cerebral palsy risk factors, and how they can increase the chances of this condition, let’s look at some of the most common issues.

The following issues are cerebral palsy risk factors directly related to parents, which may increase the potential for cerebral palsy:

  • The mother is over forty years of age;
  • The mother is under twenty years of age;
  • The father is under twenty years of age;
  • The mother has a vaginal or uterine infection, such as streptococcus:

The following issues are cerebral palsy risk factors directly related to the child:

  • The child is the first child born in the family;
  • The child is the fifth or later child born in the family;
  • The child had a low birth weight of less than five and a half pounds;
  • The child was premature and born at less than thirty-seven weeks;
  • The child was one of a pair of twins, or one of the twins died.

The following are other potential cerebral palsy risk factors that may increase the chances of cerebral palsy:

  • The mother becomes infected with a virus or German measles early in her pregnancy.

  • There is a blood type incompatibility, such as Rh or ABO, between the mother and child. ABO blood type incompatibility means the blood type of the mother is different from that of the developing fetus. This can happen if the mother is type A, and the fetus is AB or B; if the mother is type B, and the fetus is AB or A; or, if the mother is type O, and the fetus is AB, A, or B. When this incompatibility occurs, the mother’s body creates antibodies to protect itself from the blood type of the fetus. These antibodies can cross into the placenta and destroy the blood cells of the fetus. The result is a fetus that becomes jaundiced and, if left untreated, significant issues, such as cerebral palsy, can develop.

  • The central nervous system of the infant is attacked by micro-organisms. The central nervous system is comprised of the brain and spinal cord. The brain sends and receives signals to the body delivered via the spinal cord. The spinal cord then sends signals to the body that directs it as to what to do. The spinal cord is the main path through which all signals are sent and received for the entire body. Individuals with cerebral palsy have disruptions in this process because the signaling system is malfunctioning. If the central nervous system of an infant is attacked by micro-organisms, this can create many issues that are known risk factors for cerebral palsy.

It is usual for more than one risk factor for cerebral palsy to be present at the same time. An issue such as having twins, which generally have low birth weights, is one such example. Combinations of risk factors further increase the chances of cerebral palsy developing.

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The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here