Cerebral palsy (CP) is a group of chronic disorders that affect the ability to control movement. It appears in the first few years of life. Generally, the disorders do not worsen over time.

CP occurs due to damage to areas of the brain that direct movement. This damage interferes with the brain's ability to control movement and posture. CP may develop before, during, or after birth.

Causes include:

  • Brain tissue that may not develop correctly during pregnancy—growing fetus may experience a lack of oxygen or nutrients
  • Child sustains a head injury or brain infection
  • Mother and child's blood types are not compatible
  • Mother has rubella while pregnant
  • Stroke or bleeding occurs in the baby's brain during development or after birth
  • Child does not get enough oxygen during or after birth
  • There are abnormalities of the umbilical cord or placenta, or the placenta separates too early from the wall of the uterus
  • Child has meningitis, encephalitis, seizures, or head injury
  • Child has genetic/metabolic abnormalities