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Cerebral Palsy Facts and Statistics

Cerebral Palsy Basics


Updated April 22, 2009

Cerebral palsy is a group of disorders that affects a persons brain (cerebral) and the way that they use their muscles (palsy).

Children with cerebral palsy can sometimes have very mild symptoms, such as being a little clumsy when they run. Others may have more severe symptoms, such as not being able to walk at all.

Cerebral Palsy Facts

  • Children with cerebral palsy typically are delayed in meeting developmental milestones, such as holding their head steady, rolling over, crawling, sitting up, standing with support, or walking.

  • Cerebral palsy can be caused by a number of different things during pregnancy or a baby's first year of life, including infections, pregnancy problems, severe jaundice (kernicterus), child abuse, strokes, head injuries, and genetic disorders.

  • Premature babies and multiple births (twins, triplets, etcs.) are at increased risk for cerebral palsy.

  • Some causes of cerebral palsy, such as from kerniterus and most head injuries, can be prevented. Adequate prenatal care and early recognition and treatment of infections may also help to prevent cerebral palsy.

  • The Apgar score can not predict if a child will have cerebral palsy.

  • There is no cure for cerebral palsy.

  • Cerebral palsy does not worsen over time and symptoms often get better with physical therapy, occupational therapy, and other treatments.

Cerebral Palsy Statistics

  • Cerebral palsy affects about 1 in 278 children.

  • There are about 764,000 children and adults in the United States with cerebral palsy.

  • Each year, about 8,000 babies and infants are diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

  • Half of people with cerebral palsy use assistive devices, including braces, walkers, and wheelchairs, to help them be more mobile.

  • About 30% of children with cerebral palsy have seizures.


AAP Policy Statement. The Apgar Score. PEDIATRICS Vol. 117 No. 4 April 2006, pp. 1444-1447.

CDC. National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. Accessed: April 2009.

Dodge NN. Cerebral palsy: medical aspects. Pediatr Clin North Am - 01-OCT-2008; 55(5): 1189-207.

Krigger KW. Cerebral palsy: an overview. Am Fam Physician. 1-JAN-2006; 73(1): 91-100.

United Cerebral Palsy. Cerebral Palsy - Facts & Figures. Accessed: April 2009.

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