child in wheelchairIf your child was recently diagnosed with cerebral palsy, you might be wondering if the condition is hereditary. Research has shown that while it is not a hereditary condition, there are some hereditary factors that can predispose individuals to it. Genetic influences cannot directly cause cerebral palsy, however. In most cases, cerebral palsy is congenital and not acquired.

A child who has congenital cerebral palsy likely developed this condition during pregnancy or birth, while the brain was developing. Some of the most common causes for congenital cerebral palsy include:

Hospitals and physicians tend not to admit their mistakes in such cases and will often try to attribute this condition to other factors that eliminate their culpability, and might even suggest the child developed it after birth, despite this being a rarity. Most children do not develop cerebral palsy after birth. In fact, according to the United Cerebral Palsy Research and Educational Foundation, 70 percent are diagnosed as congenital, the cause of which is usually the result of negligent or subpar care administered by healthcare providers.

Acquired cerebral palsy accounts for about 10 percent of all cases. Although there is some debate among experts regarding the length of time it takes for the brain to fully develop, acquired cerebral palsy occurs within two to five years of a child’s birth. In these cases, the child is not born with the condition, but rather develops it due to an exposure to certain types of bacteria, or trauma to the brain. Common causes of acquired cerebral palsy include:

It could also be caused by a head injury in a motor vehicle accident, a fall, near-drowning, or abuse. Unlike congenital cerebral palsy, it is often easier to identify the cause of acquired cerebral palsy.

In some cases, a child might be treated for cerebral palsy even in the absence of the condition. This happens when a child sustains a brain injury after the brain has fully developed. When a child has been diagnosed with No CP, he or she might exhibit signs of impairment that are similar to cerebral palsy. The causes are often the same as those who are diagnosed with acquired cerebral palsy, except it occurs usually after a child’s fifth birthday.

Regardless of how your child developed cerebral palsy, it is important to seek a diagnosis if you think he or she might have this condition. Getting a formal diagnosis is the first step to understanding how this happened to your child. Caring for a child with a disability can take a financial toll on a family, so if someone else was responsible, it is time to hold that person accountable.