Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Brain & Nervous System Health Center

Font Size
A
A
A

Complications of Cerebral Palsy

Complications of cerebral palsy (CP) may include:

  • Joint problems. Permanently stiff joints (contractures) and dislocated hips may develop. In addition, some preteens, teens, and young adults develop abnormal curves in the spine (scoliosis).
  • Bowel and bladder problems. Stools may become hard and difficult to pass and may cause pain. Bladder problems may lead to bed-wetting or daytime incontinence.
  • Choking. People with CP may cough, gag, and choke when eating. They may inhale food into their lungs, which can cause pneumonia. People with total body cerebral palsy are most prone to gagging and choking.
  • Acid reflux (GERD). Stomach acid washing back into the esophagus (gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD) can cause pain, irritation, and bleeding.
  • Slowed growth. Growth problems may be caused by poor nutrition or by damage to certain parts of the brain: babies with CP may not gain weight at the same rate as other babies their age, young children with CP may be shorter than average, teens' sexual development may be slower than normal. Other growth problems may also occur, such as muscles tightening around the long bones of a leg. This can result in one shorter leg, which makes walking difficult.
  • Early death. Cerebral palsy may cause complications that result in an early death. For example, adults with severe forms of CP, such as spastic quadriplegia, may not live past the age of 40.1

Citations

  1. Pellegrino L (2007). Cerebral palsy. In ML Batshaw et al., eds., Children With Disabilities, 6th ed., pp. 387-408. Baltimore: Paul H. Brooks Publishing.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical Reviewer Louis Pellegrino, MD - Developmental Pediatrics
Last Revised September 30, 2010

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: September 30, 2010
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

Today on WebMD

Depressed
Slideshow
3d scan of fractured skull
Slideshow
 
human brain waves
Article
brain maze
fitQuiz
 
senior man
Article
brain research briefing
Article
 
Syringe
Article
graphic of human head
Article
 
mans hands on laptop keyboard
Article
brain illustration stroke
Slideshow
 
most common stroke symptoms
Article
Parkinsons Disease Medications
Article