Cerebral palsy history and symptoms

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Cerebral palsy Microchapters


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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Iqra Qamar M.D.[2]


A positive history of failure to meet the expected developmental milestones, failure to suppress the primitive reflexes, intellectual disability or mental retardation, visual or hearing problems, speech or language problems, and oromotor dysfunction is suggestive of cerebral palsy. The most common symptoms of cerebral palsy include abnormal muscle tone- early hypotonia followed by spasticity, gross motor developmental delay, definite hand preference before age 1 year, failure to crawl, failure to thrive or growth failure. Less common symptoms of cerebral palsy may include hypotonia with decreased resistance to movement.


Patients with cerebral palsy may have a positive history for the following findings:

Type of history Specific history
Prenatal history
  • Prenatal exposure to:
  • Maternal diabetes
  • Acute maternal illness
  • Trauma
  • Radiation exposure
  • Prenatal care
  • Fetal movements
  • Early frequent spontaneous abortions
  • Parental consanguinity
  • Family history of neurologic disease
Perinatal history
Developmental history
  • Significantly delayed gross motor milestones
  • Early hand preference  when <1.5 yr old
Family history

Common Symptoms

Common symptoms of cerebral palsy may include:

Less Common Symptoms

Less common symptoms of cerebral palsy may include:

  • Hypotonia with decreased resistance to movement


  1. Reddihough DS, Baikie G, Walstab JE (2001). "Cerebral palsy in Victoria, Australia: mortality and causes of death". J Paediatr Child Health. 37 (2): 183–6. PMID 11328476.
  2. Flynn JM, Miller F (2002). "Management of hip disorders in patients with cerebral palsy". J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 10 (3): 198–209. PMID 12041941.
  3. McCarthy JJ, D'Andrea LP, Betz RR, Clements DH (2006). "Scoliosis in the child with cerebral palsy". J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 14 (6): 367–75. PMID 16757676.
  4. Decter RM, Bauer SB, Khoshbin S, Dyro FM, Krarup C, Colodny AH, Retik AB (1987). "Urodynamic assessment of children with cerebral palsy". J. Urol. 138 (4 Pt 2): 1110–2. PMID 3656569.
  5. Silva JA, Gonsalves Mde C, Saverio AP, Oliveira IC, Carrerette FB, Damião R (2010). "Lower urinary tract dysfunction and ultrasound assessment of bladder wall thickness in children with cerebral palsy". Urology. 76 (4): 942–5. doi:10.1016/j.urology.2010.04.005. PMID 20579700.
  6. Chad KE, McKay HA, Zello GA, Bailey DA, Faulkner RA, Snyder RE (2000). "Body composition in nutritionally adequate ambulatory and non-ambulatory children with cerebral palsy and a healthy reference group". Dev Med Child Neurol. 42 (5): 334–9. PMID 10855654.
  7. Henderson RC, Lark RK, Gurka MJ, Worley G, Fung EB, Conaway M, Stallings VA, Stevenson RD (2002). "Bone density and metabolism in children and adolescents with moderate to severe cerebral palsy". Pediatrics. 110 (1 Pt 1): e5. PMID 12093986.

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