Cerebral palsy isthe general termfor a number of neurological conditions that affect movement and co-or dination.

Neurological conditions are caused by problems in the brain and nervous system.

Specifically, cerebral palsy is caused by a problem in the parts of the brain responsible for controlling muscles. The conditioncan occur if the brain develops abnormally or is damaged before, during or shortly after birth.

Causes of cerebral palsy include:

  • an infection caught by the mother during pregnancy
  • a difficult or premature birth
  • bleeding in the babys brain
  • changes (mutations) in the genes that affect the brain's development

Some people only have minor problems, whereas othersare severely disabled.

Many people with cerebral palsy also have a number of associated problems, including:

  • repeated fits or seizures
  • drooling problems and swallowing difficulties (dysphagia)

Some people with the condition may have communication and learning difficulties, although intelligence is often unaffected.

You should see your GP if you're concerned about your child's development. If necessary, they can refer you to a paediatrician (a doctor who specialises in the treatment of children), who can identify any problems.

However, there are numerous treatments available, which can treat many of its symptoms and help people with the condition to be as independent as possible.

These treatments include:

  • Physiotherapy y
  • occupational therapy
  • medication to relieve muscle stiffness and spasms

In some cases, surgery may also be needed.

Readmore about treating cerebral palsy .


Cerebral palsy isn't a progressive condition. This means the original problem in the brain doesn't get worse with age, and life expectancy is usually unaffected.

However, the physical and emotional strain of living with a long-term condition such as cerebral palsy can put a great deal of stress on the body, which can cause further problems in later life.

This helps scientists look for better ways to prevent and treat this condition. You can opt out of the register at any time.

Find out more about the register .

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 28 Nov 2016