Birth Injury Web
Risk Factors

Cerebral Palsy Risk Factors

CP is caused by abnormal development of the brain or damage to the developing brain that affects a child’s ability to control his or her muscles. This brain damage that leads to CP can happen before birth, during birth, within a month after birth, or during the first years of a child’s life, while the brain is still developing. CP related to brain damage that occurred before or during birth is called congenital CP. The majority of CP (85%–90%) is congenital. Here are some of the risk factors for Cerebral Palsy:


Low Birthweight

  • Babies birthweight 3⅓ to 5½ pounds – 6 CP per 1,000 births.
  • Babies birthweight less than 3⅓ pounds – 59 CP per 1,000 births.
  • Babies birthweight over 5½ pounds – 1 CP per 1,000 births.

Premature Birth

  • Babies born at 28 to 31 weeks gestation – 44 CP per 1,000 births
  • Babies born at 32 to 36 weeks gestation – 6 CP per 1,000 births
  • Babies born at 37 or more weeks gestation – 1 per 1,000 births

Disruption of Blood and Oxygen Supply

  • Blood clot in the brain can cause brain damage that can result in CP. It can occur in the developing brain during pregnancy.
  • Disruption of the oxygen supply during birth can result in CP.

Infection Among Mothers

  • Infection of the placental membranes (chorioamnionitis) or other signs of infection (blood infection in the mother or fever during labor) have been associated with an increased risk of CP.
  • Chorioamnionitis has been found to account for 12% of spastic CP among children born full-term and 28% of CP among children born prematurely.

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