Cerebral palsy is defined by the national Center for Biotechnology Information as a "condition, sometimes thought of as a group of disorders, that can involve brain and nervous system functions such as movement, learning, hearing, seeing and thinking." Symptoms range from simple lack of fine muscle coordination to an inability to maintain balance or walk.
The condition is often accompanied by other medical complications, including seizures and developmental delays.
Cerebral palsy can be caused by a number of different events, some of which may occur before, during or after birth. In some cases, the condition may result from a combination of events occurring at all three stages of the birth process.
However, premature infants have a slightly higher risk of developing cerebral palsy, according to NCBI.
Cerebral palsy also may occur during early infancy as a result of conditions, including:
- Bleeding in the brain
- Brain infections (encephalitis, meningitis, herpes simplex infections)
- Head injury
- Infections in the mother during pregnancy (rubella)
- Severe jaundice
While we are a long way from making cerebral palsy a thing of the past, we are coming closer to fully understanding the condition.