Is cerebral palsy genetic? Cerebral palsy is a condition that affects the way the brain functions. It can cause problems with movement, coordination, and speech. Some people may wonder if cerebral palsy is genetic. Unfortunately, the answer to that question is not always clear-cut. There are some cases of cerebral palsy caused by genetics, but there are also many cases that are not caused by any known genes.
In some cases, it may be difficult to determine whether or not a particular point of cerebral palsy was caused by genetics or something else. Nonetheless, researchers continue to study the link between genes and cerebral palsy to understand this complex condition better.
Cerebral Palsy Genetic Causes
As of right now, there does seem to be a genetic link in some cases of cerebral palsy. For example, researchers have determined a connection between the PPAT gene and cerebral palsy. This gene carries instructions for creating an enzyme that helps produce neurotransmitters. The lack of this enzyme can interfere with the brain’s ability to send signals through the nervous system.
Other research has concluded a genetic link between several parts of the brain and cerebral palsy.
These areas include:
- The Purkinje cells of the cerebellum. These cells help to control muscle movement and balance.
- The substantia nigra. The substantia nigra helps to control voluntary muscle movement and fine motor skills.
- The globus pallidus. This area of the brain helps to prevent voluntary muscle movement.
- The cerebral cortex. This part of the brain is responsible for thinking and memory, and voluntary muscle movement.
Scientists have also discovered a gene called “DEAF1” that causes autosomal recessive spastic ataxia of Charlevoix-Saguenay (ARSACS).
Other researchers have determined that at least two genes, “SPAST” and “L1CAM,” play a role in developing spastic cerebral palsy.
Although there are some cases of cerebral palsy caused by genetics, the condition is not inherited in most cases. Cerebral palsy affects about 2 out of every 1,000 children. It can happen due to problems that occur during pregnancy or due to an injury suffered by the baby while they are still developing in the womb.
In some cases, cerebral palsy may be caused by an infection passed on from the mother to her baby. However, in most cases, doctors don’t know exactly what causes cerebral palsy to develop in a particular person.
Environmental Causes of Cerebral Palsy
One study of infants found that 25% of cerebral palsy patients were caused by birth trauma. This can occur when the child experiences difficult labor, prolonged pressure on the head, or other birth-related problems. For example, if a child has an extended period without oxygen during birth, it can result in brain damage that leads to cerebral palsy.
Another environmental cause of cerebral palsy is infections. Infections such as meningitis and encephalitis can cause brain damage, leading to cerebral palsy symptoms.
Accidents can also cause brain damage.
A head injury, drowning incident, or other accident that results in bleeding on the brain can also lead to cerebral palsy.
Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy symptoms vary from person to person. People with this condition may experience clumsiness, difficulty walking, abnormal eye movements, and problems with speech.
One person may have symptoms in one body area, while another may experience symptoms in a completely different location. For example, some people with cerebral palsy may have symptoms in the arms and legs, while others might experience symptoms in the face and throat muscles.
In any case, the symptoms of cerebral palsy tend to be milder in children who are younger than 2 years old, and adults with cerebral palsy are more likely to have severe symptoms.
While there are cases of cerebral palsy caused by genes, it can be difficult to determine whether or not a particular case is genetic. In some cases, the brain damage that leads to cerebral palsy can be caused by environmental factors such as birth trauma and accidents. However, in most cases of cerebral palsy, the exact cause is unknown.