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Cerebral palsy is a debilitating disorder that can affect nearly everything a person does, from motor skills to muscle tone, and from speech to hearing. Cerebral palsy, also abbreviated to CP commonly, is most often caused by circumstances just before or during a baby's birth, though it can develop during the first five years of life too. There is no cure for CP, but there are many things that can be done to help some people with cerebral palsy, including physical therapy and sometimes surgery.

What are the causes of cerebral palsy?

In some cases, they can be unknown and present from birth. There are complications of labor and delivery that can be responsible for causing CP. These cases form three to 13 percent of all congenital CP diagnoses. Maternal infections with diseases such as rubella or toxoplasmosis (see toxoplasmosis a danger to unborn babies?) can also cause cerebral palsy. Infections after birth, like meningitis or head injuries are another cause of CP in babies. These cases account for around 10 to 20 percent of all diagnosed patients, depending on which source you consult. If you are looking at this site, it is probably because you are pregnant or trying to conceive.

Should cerebral palsy worry you, and is there anything you can do to prevent it?

Not normally. There are risk factors. They are a premature birth, breech delivery, gestational hypertension, Rh incompatibility (for more info, see pregnant and Rh negative? What you need to know), and low birth weight, among some others. The best you can do is taking good care of yourself while you are pregnant, and attending regular prenatal checkups so that any worrying aspect of your health can be dealt with at the earliest opportunity.

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