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Questions about the child's
medical history, including details about the mother's
physical exam to look for signs of CP. The doctor will look to see if the child retains
newborn reflexes longer than normal. This can be a sign of CP. Postures and basic muscle function, hearing, and vision are
If the diagnosis is
unclear, more tests may be done. Sometimes these tests can help find out the severity of CP.
A doctor may closely monitor a newborn or child for signs of CP if he or
she has known risk factors. These factors may be related to
problems during pregnancy or birth,
being born early (premature birth), or
problems that occur within the first 2 or 3 years of life.
Doctors are careful not to diagnose CP too early,
because some babies who have
motor skill problems soon after birth never
Sometimes symptoms may not appear until the nervous
system matures. It
can take up to a few years before doctors can tell if a baby with body
movement and posture (motor) problems has CP.
Evaluating and monitoring cerebral palsy
is diagnosed, a child will also be checked for
other medical conditions that can occur with cerebral
palsy, such as:
Other developmental delays in addition to ones already found.
Developmental abilities will be checked to find out if new symptoms, such as speech and
language delay, appear as a child's nervous system matures.
Most of the time, a doctor can predict many of the
long-term physical effects of CP when a child is 1 to 3 years old. But
sometimes such predictions aren't possible until a child reaches school age. That's
when learning, communication skills, and other abilities can be checked.
Some children need repeated testing that
X-rays, to check for loose or
dislocated hips. Children with CP are usually X-rayed
several times during ages 2 to 5. Spinal X-rays also are done to look for curves
in the child's spine (scoliosis).
Gait analysis. This
helps identify problems and guide treatment decisions.
Other tests may be needed, depending on a child's
symptoms, other conditions, or medicines he or she takes.