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Risk Factors for Cerebral Palsy

 

A risk factor is not a cause, it is a variable which, when present, increases the chance of something occurring. In other words, a risk factor for Cerebral Palsy is not a cause of Cerebral Palsy. It is a variable that could increase your child’s chances of developing Cerebral Palsy. The presence of a risk factor does not mean Cerebral Palsy will occur, nor does the absence of a risk factor mean that Cerebral Palsy will not occur. If a risk factor is present, it should alert parents and health care professionals to be even more observant of the infant’s development. Risk factors can be associated with the parents, as well as the child. The following are risk factors related to parents that can increase the risk of Cerebral Palsy:

  • Mother 40 years or older
  • Mother 20 years or younger
  • Father 20 years or younger
  • African-American ethnicity.

The following are risk factors related to the child that can increase the risk of Cerebral Palsy:

  • A first child or child born fifth or later in the family
  • One of a pair of twins, especially if one twin dies
  • Low birth weight, less than 3.5 pounds
  • Premature infant, less than 37 weeks.

The following are other known risk factors that can increase the risk of Cerebral Palsy:

  • Rh or ABO blood type incompatibility between mother and infant
  • Infection of the mother with German measles or other virus in early pregnancy
  • Attack by micro-organisms on the central nervous system of the infant.

More than one risk factor can be present at the same time, such as low birth weight and being a twin. Such combinations can further increase the risk of Cerebral Palsy occurring.

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