What Puts a Child at Risk for Developing Cerebral Palsy? 


There are many risk factors for cerebral palsy. They can include:

  • Premature (early) birth
  • Low birth weight
  • Maternal blood clotting problems
  • Inability of the placenta to provide the developing fetus with adequate oxygen and nutrients due to abnormalities of the placenta
  • RH or A-B-O blood type incompatibility between mother and infant
  • Infection of the mother with viral diseases in pregnancy (e.g. rubella, cytomegalovirus, toxoplasmosis)
  • Bacterial infection of the mother, fetus or infant that directly or indirectly attack the infant’s brain
  • Prolonged low oxygen delivery to the baby during the birthing process
  • Severe jaundice shortly after birth
  • Having a major or minor birth defect
  • Meconium aspiration (i.e. the baby pooping while in the uterus and breathing in the amniotic fluid that contains the poop causing a pneumonia)
  • An infant being distress to the extent that an emergency caesarean delivery is needed
  • Newborn seizures
  • Newborn low blood sugar
  • Multiple fetuses (e.g. twins, triplets…)

It is important to understand that even if a child does have a risk factor for CP; it does not mean that the child will develop cerebral palsy. It just means that the chance of the child having CP is increased. If a risk factor is present, it serves to alert parents and physicians to be very observant to the infant’s development. Conversely, some children with CP have no risk factors.

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Brain Injury Research Foundation

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Children’s Hemiplegia and Stroke Association