There are multiple factors that contribute to cerebral palsy, including lack of oxygen to the baby’s brain during labor and delivery. During labor and delivery, the mother is usually placed on a fetal monitor which monitors and records the baby’s heartbeat. If the baby suffers from a lack of oxygen, then there will be signs of this distress in the baby’s heart tracing as detected by the monitor.
Medical professionals are trained to know the necessary measures to take to relieve the distress. If these measures do not work to correct the lack of oxygen and relieve the distress, then immediate delivery of the baby is necessary to prevent brain injury. If there is a significant delay in recognizing the distress, the prolonged lack of oxygen can result in serious injury to the baby’s brain. This brain injury can later be diagnosed as cerebral palsy. Alternatively, when improperly used, delivery instruments such as forceps and vacuums can result in bleeding into the brain or skull fracture.
Congenital cerebral palsy results from brain injury during a baby’s development in the womb. It is present at birth, although it may not be detected for months. It is responsible approximately 70% of cases identified. An additional 20% are diagnosed with congenital cerebral palsy due to a brain injury during the birthing process. In many cases, the cause of congenital cerebral palsy is unknown.
Possible causes include:
Some risk factors that increase the possibility that a child will later be diagnosed with CP include: