(as defined by the American Academy of Pediatrics)
Children with cerebral palsy have an impairment in the area of the brain that controls movement and muscle tone. Many of these youngsters have normal intelligence, even though they have difficulty with motor control and movement. The condition causes different types of motor disability, which can vary from quite mild and barely noticeable to very profound. Depending on the severity of the problem, a child with cerebral palsy may simply be a little clumsy or awkward, or he may be unable to walk. Cerebral palsy is caused by malformation or damage to the brain, usually during pregnancy, but occasionally during delivery, or immediately after birth.
The signs and symptoms of cerebral palsy vary tremendously because there are many different types and degrees of disability. The main clue that your child might have cerebral palsy is a delay in achieving the motor milestones. Here are some specific warning signs.
In a Baby Under Six Months
- His head lags when you pick him up while he’s lying on his back.
- He feels stiff.
- He feels floppy.
- When held cradled in your arms, he seems to overextend his back and neck—constantly acts as if he is pushing away from you.
- When you pick him up, his legs get stiff and they cross or “scissor.”
In a Baby Over Six Months
- He continues to have the asymmetrical tonic neck reflex
- He reaches out with only one hand while keeping the other fisted.
In a Baby Over Ten Months
- He crawls in a lopsided manner, pushing off with one hand and leg while dragging the opposite hand and leg.
- He scoots around on his buttocks or hops on his knees, but does not crawl on all fours.
If you have any concerns about your child’s development, talk to your pediatrician at your routine visit. Because children’s rates of development vary widely, it is sometimes difficult to make a definite diagnosis of mild cerebral palsy in the first year or two of life. Often a consultation with a developmental pediatrician or pediatric neurologist will assist in the diagnosis.
For more on this topic, please visit: Celebral Palsy
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