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Cerebral Palsy - Symptoms

When cerebral palsy (CP) is severe, signs are often noticed at birth or shortly after birth. But some early signs of severe CP vary depending on the specific type of CP.

Common signs of severe CP that may be noticed shortly after birth include:

  • Problems sucking and swallowing.
  • A weak or shrill cry.
  • Seizures.
  • Unusual positions. Often the baby's body is either very relaxed and floppy or very stiff.

Even when the condition is present at birth, the signs of cerebral palsy may not be noticed until a child is 1 to 3 years old. Doctors and parents may not see that a baby's movements are unusual until the movements become more obvious as the baby grows.

Signs that occur over time

Some problems related to CP become more clear over time. Or they may develop as a child grows. These may include:

  • Smaller muscles in the affected arms or legs. Nervous system problems prevent movement in the affected arms and legs. Not being active affects how the muscles grow.
  • Abnormal sensations. Some people who have CP feel pain when touched lightly. Even everyday activities, such as brushing teeth, may hurt. Abnormal sensations can also make it hard to identify common objects by touch.
  • Skin irritation. Drooling is common when facial and throat muscles are affected. Drooling irritates the skin, particularly around the mouth, chin, and chest.
  • Dental problems. Children who have trouble brushing their teeth have a greater risk of getting cavities and gum disease (gingivitis). Seizure medicines may also lead to gum disease.
  • Accidents. Falls and other accidents are a risk, depending on muscle control, joint stiffness, and general physical strength. And CP-related seizures can cause injuries.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: September 20, 2012
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.
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