Cerebral Palsy and Its Known Causes

Posted by on Jan 3, 2014 in Birth Injury | 1 comment

Cerebral palsy (CP) is an injury that is most common to children. It is caused by the abnormal development of the brain or injury to the brain, resulting to impairment in muscle coordination or loss of motor function. This injury, which is usually sustained during pregnancy, birth or soon after birth, has and continues to impair children’s ability to play, eat, walk and do all other things common to them.

Before 1980, the belief that asphyxia, or the lack of supply of oxygen to the baby’s brain during labor or birth, was held by scientists as the major cause of cerebral palsy. It is true that the time spent by the unborn child in his/her mother’s womb, as well as the time of birth, is critical, as mistakes (like wrong medication during pregnancy and wrong dose of anesthesia during delivery) may be committed; but these mistakes may not directly cause brain damage that results to cerebral palsy.

Newer studies have led scientists to discover that damage to the brain of the unborn usually happens up to the second trimester (6 months) of pregnancy and that the damage is frequently due to:

  • Periventricular leukomalacia (PVL) – a condition wherein death of small areas of brain tissues around the ventricles occurs. PVL is usually caused by rupturing or infection of the uterus, decrease in blood flow (or ischemia) and low blood pressure (or hypotension) due to caesarean birth.
  • Abnormality in the development of the brain – from the first to the sixth month of pregnancy, the unborn child is most vulnerable to abnormal growth/development of the brain. Head trauma, parasite infection or toxoplasmosis and other forms of viruses can cause these abnormal growths which, in turn, can lead to changes in the way the brain communicates with the different muscles inside the body.
  • Intracranial hemorrhage or internal bleeding – An intracranial hemorrhage stops the flow of blood to the vital tissues of the brain, resulting to damage or death of such tissues.

Birth injuries, specifically cerebral palsy, can cause demoralizing consequences to the lives of both parent and child; its effect on the child, however, is much heavier as it is sure to impair the affected child’s cognitive and physical development, which will require rehabilitative care and costly medical treatment for life.

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