Cerebral palsy

Cerebral palsy is the name for a group of lifelong conditions that affect movement and co-ordination. It's caused by a problem with the brain that develops before, during or soon after birth.

Symptoms of cerebral palsy

The symptoms of cerebral palsy are not usually obvious just after a baby is born. They normally become noticeable from an early age.

Symptoms can include:

The severity of symptoms can vary significantly. Some people only have minor problems, while others may be severely disabled.

Read more about the symptoms of cerebral palsy

When to get medical advice

Speak to your health visitor or a GP if you have any concerns about your child's health or development.

Symptoms like those of cerebral palsy can have a number of different causes and are not necessarily a sign of anything serious.

Your child may be referred to specialists in child development who can do some checks and tests.

Read more about tests for cerebral palsy

Causes of cerebral palsy

Cerebral palsy can happen if a baby's brain does not develop normally while they're in the womb, or is damaged during or soon after birth.

Causes of cerebral palsy include:

But in many cases, the exact cause is not clear. 

Read more about the causes of cerebral palsy

Treatments for cerebral palsy

There's currently no cure for cerebral palsy, but treatments are available to help people with the condition be as active and independent as possible.

Treatments include:

A team of healthcare professionals will work with you to come up with a treatment plan that meets your or your child's needs.

Read more about treatments for cerebral palsy

Outlook for cerebral palsy

Cerebral palsy affects each person differently and it can be difficult to predict what the outlook will be for you or your child.

Generally speaking:

Speak to your care team about the likely effects of cerebral palsy on you or your child.

Help and support

If you or your child have been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, you may find it useful to contact a support group for information and advice.

Scope is the main UK charity for people with cerebral palsy and their families. They offer:

Find out more about:

Your care team may also be able to provide details of support groups in your local area.

Page last reviewed: 31 May 2023
Next review due: 31 May 2026