Cerebral palsy (CP) is a disorder that affects movement and posture. Many children with CP face challenges throughout their lives, but many people don’t know that life expectancy for these children varies greatly. Some children with CP live relatively normal lives, while others require lifelong care. In this blog post, we’ll explore cerebral palsy life expectancy and look at the latest research on the topic. We’ll also discuss what you can do to help your child live a long and healthy life, whether they have CP or not.
What is cerebral palsy?
Cerebral palsy is a disorder that affects movement and posture. It occurs when the brain has problems sending messages to the muscles. Brain damage typically affects motor areas, which control movement and balance. This damage is usually congenital (occurs before birth) or results from a traumatic brain injury, such as a car accident or a fall.
With CP, many children have stiffness in their muscles, limiting their ability to move. As a result, they might have an awkward gait or walk on their toes. As a result, some children are not able to walk at all. Others might have trouble with coordination and might fall often.
Many children with cerebral palsy face challenges throughout their lives. They might have trouble with speech and language, and they often experience seizures. Many children also experience vision and hearing problems. They can also face mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression.
Cerebral palsy is classified into four types based on how it affects movement.
• Spastic: This type is the most common and typically causes stiffness and tightness in the muscles. If a person’s arm or leg suddenly moves when they don’t want it to, this is called a spastic movement. Children with spastic CP might walk on their toes or have tight muscles in their legs. They might not be able to bend their knees and walk like other children.
• Dyskinetic: This occurs when uncontrolled muscle movements, such as muscle spasms and other repetitive movements. Children with this type of CP might have trouble sitting still or controlling their facial expressions.
• Ataxic: This is when a person has poor balance and coordination. They might not be able to move their arms or legs simultaneously, and they might stumble often. This type is less common than the others.
• Mixed: This occurs when more than one type of movement problem occurs in a person. It is also less common.
What is the life expectancy for a child with cerebral palsy?
The life expectancy varies depending on the severity of the disorder. Some children live relatively normal lives, while others require lifelong care. About 40% of people with cerebral palsy have mild CP. About 30% have moderate, and about 13% have severe cases of CP.
In children with mild to moderate cerebral palsy, life expectancy is about 60 years. But in children with severe cerebral palsy, the life expectancy is only around 40 years. The lower life expectancy is due to the many health problems people with severe cerebral palsy have. In general, children with CP don’t live as long as their peers.
What are the risk factors for palsy?
There are many risk factors for cerebral palsy, including:
• A mother who gets the flu or has a fever during pregnancy. This is particularly risky if she contracts the flu during the first trimester (first three months) of pregnancy.
• A low birth weight and preterm labor complications are common in first-time mothers.
• Difficult deliveries and long labors, leading to a lack of oxygen to the brain.
• Birth injury or trauma to the brain.
• Genetic disorders passed down through families, such as Down syndrome and neurofibromatosis.
What are the symptoms of cerebral palsy?
Symptoms vary depending on how severe CP is. However, here are some common signs:
• Stiff muscles or abnormal movements.
• Poor coordination and balance.
• Slowed growth or delayed development.
• Problems with speech and language.
Can cerebral palsy be prevented?
Many cases of CP can’t be prevented because the cause is unknown. However, there are some precautions a woman can take during her pregnancy to reduce the risk of CP in her child:
• Take a multivitamin with folic acid daily to reduce the risk of neural tube defects, which cause CP.
• Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol during pregnancy.
• Get early prenatal care.
• Get regular tests during pregnancy, such as ultrasound exams and genetic testing.
• Follow the recommended schedule for when to get flu shots.
• Avoid taking certain medications during pregnancy, such as some antibiotics.
How can children with palsy live longer?
There are many ways to help your child live a long and healthy life. Here are some strategies:
• Make sure they receive all of their recommended vaccinations, including the flu vaccine.
• Start them on a seizure medication if they have seizures.
• monitor their blood pressure.
• Help them get enough sleep.
• Find out if they are overweight, and talk to their doctor about a healthy weight-loss plan.
• Make sure they attend regular doctor visits.
• Work with them to develop healthy habits, such as eating right and exercising.
• Help them make friends by joining community groups, such as Little League.
• Make sure they wear the right safety gear, including a helmet and wrist guards. This can protect them from falls and other accidents.
• Encourage them to explore their interests, such as sports and music. These activities can improve self-esteem and make them feel like they belong to a group.
• Empower them to communicate with others by teaching them sign language, typing, and other methods of communication.
• Assist them with daily living, such as using the bathroom and getting dressed.
• Find a doctor who treats CP and develops an individualized care plan.
• Make sure they get enough social stimulation, such as hanging out with friends and family.
• Help them maintain good oral hygiene to reduce their risk of tooth decay.
• Provide them with challenging but not frustrating activities, such as games and art projects.
• Be a good role model by eating healthy and exercising regularly.
• Reduce stress to help them cope with difficult situations and improve their health.
• Educate yourself on the latest treatments and technologies available to people with CP.
Am I at risk of having a child with cerebral palsy?
Some risk factors may increase the chance of having a child with cerebral palsy:
• A family history of CP.
• A previous pregnancy or birth complication.
• Being under 18 years old during pregnancy.
• Smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, or using drugs during pregnancy.
• Having uncontrolled epilepsy.
World Cerebral Palsy Day is held on the second Wednesday of October every year to raise public awareness that cerebral palsy is a group of disorders that affect the development and functioning of the brain. The disabilities associated with CP affect body movement, muscle control, muscle coordination, reflex, posture, balance, and sensory functions. Cerebral palsy is the most common motor disability among children in the United States.
While cerebral palsy can affect life expectancy, your child can live a long and healthy life with the right support and care. Ensure your child receives all of their recommended vaccinations, stays active and healthy, has a balanced diet, maintains good oral hygiene, and regularly visits their doctor to talk about any concerns. For more information on how you can help your child live a long and healthy life, contact the Cerebral Palsy Foundation.