Definition and Etiology

Cerebral palsy is a term that refers to a number of nonprogressive disorders of movement and posture that result from an injury to the central nervous system during early brain development (Table 1).

Table 1 Causes of cerebral palsy

Cause % of cases

Perinatal 44

First trimester

- Teratogens

- Genetic syndromes

- Chromosomal abnormalities

- Brain malformations Second and third trimesters

- Intrauterine infections

- Problems in fetal/placental functioning

Labor and delivery 19


Complications of labor and delivery

Perinatal 8

Sepsis/central nervous system infection



Childhood 5


Traumatic brain injury Toxins

Not obvious 24

Adapted from Hagberg B and Hagberg G (1984) Prenatal and perinatal risk factors in a survey of 681 Swedish cases. In: Stanley F and Alberman E (eds.) The Epidemiology of the Cerebral Palsied, pp. 116-134. Philadelphia: JB Lippincott.

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