Can cerebral palsy be prevented?

As an expectant parent in California, you hope your baby comes out perfectly healthy. While the majority of births result in healthy babies, there are things that can happen either during pregnancy or during labor that lead to illnesses or injuries. Cerebral palsy is one of these diseases and, while most cases are not preventable, there are some cases in which either the mother or the doctor can do things to prevent it.

According to the American Pregnancy Association, cerebral palsy occurs when there is brain damage that affects one's ability to control movement of muscles. Cerebral palsy affects around .2-.3% of the population, and there are three different main types. The most common is spastic CP, in which stiff muscles cause difficulty moving. With athetoid CP, the whole body fluctuates between stiffness and fluidity, which affects not only walking and sitting but also speaking. Ataxic CP affects coordination and balance.

There are many causes of CP, and some occur during the pregnancy while others are in the first couple years of the baby's life. Causes include pregnancy infections, birth defects, blood diseases, prematurity, lack of oxygen during labor, severe jaundice and brain and head injuries. 

WebMD discusses that while most causes of cerebral palsy are out of anyone's control, there are some precautions that may prevent it. The mother should make sure she is doing everything possible to have a healthy pregnancy. This includes taking prenatal vitamins, avoiding smoking and drugs, and treating medical conditions. There may be instances in which the medical providers can prevent CP. One is to make sure the baby is getting enough oxygen during birth and taking emergency steps if not. The physician should also do a thorough check of the baby after delivery. During the child's first years of life, make sure you protect the head against falls and that you use proper safety restraints in all vehicles to prevent brain injury. 


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