Risk Factors & Prevention

The most common recognised risk factors are:

  • A damaged placenta which may interfere with foetal growth
  • Infections including dental infections, seizure disorder or other medical problems in the mother (ex. Maternal thyroid disorder)
  • Virus (ex. Rubella (German measles))
  • Poor nutrition
  • Maternal diabetes, hyperthyroidism or high blood pressure
  • Malformations of the developing brain
  • Toxicity (drug or alcohol use during pregnancy)
  • Premature delivery, multiple births
  • Lack of oxygen (hypoxia)
  • Infection such as meningitis, encephalitis, herpes simplex
  • Head injury
  • Bleeding in the brain
  • Seizure


Adequate prenatal care may reduce the risk of some causes of cerebral palsy.

However, dramatic improvements over the last 60 years in obstetrical care at delivery have not reduced the incidence of cerebral palsy. In most cases the injury causing the disorder may not be preventable.

Issues in the birthing process or subsequent events account for less than 10% of cases of cerebral palsy, the rest occur in utero.