Early Signs of Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is the most common motor disability in children

About one in 345 children in the United States live with CP (according to 2010 estimates from CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network). Cerebral palsy develops before a child reaches the age of five. It is important to know the early signs of CP in children.

Early signs of cerebral palsy

Signs in babies less than 6 months old

Spastic quadriplegia/quadriparesis – Spastic quadriplegia is the most severe form of spastic CP and affects all four limbs, the trunk, and the face. People with spastic quadriparesis usually cannot walk and often have other developmental disabilities such as intellectual disability; seizures; or problems with vision, hearing or speech.

  • Head lags when you pick them up while lying on their back
  • Feels stiff
  • Feels floppy
  • When held cradled in your arms, they seem to overextend their back and neck; constantly acting as if they are pushing away from you
  • When picked up, their legs get stiff and they cross or scissor
Signs in babies older than 6 months old
  • They don’t roll over in either direction
  • They cannot bring their hands together
  • They have difficulty bringing hands to their mouth
  • They reach out with only one hand while keeping the other fisted
Signs in babies older than 10 months old
  • They crawl in a lopsided manner, pushing off with one hand and leg while dragging the opposite hand and leg
  • They scoot around on their buttocks or hops on their knees, but does not crawl on all fours

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