Causes of Cerebral Palsy: Origins, Etiology, Aetiology, Causal Pathways
Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral Palsy
“Many chemicals are known to have an adverse effect on a fetus’s developing brain. When a fetus is exposed to large amounts of alcohol, several body systems, including the neurological system, will almost always suffer damage. This long-term, multisystemic effect of alcohol on a child whose mother abused alcohol during pregnancy is known as fetal alcohol syndrome.

-Miller & Bachrach

Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral Palsy
Alcohol and cigarette smoking both have powerfully adverse effect on a fetus’s development and are frequently underestimated as a cause of cerebral palsy. That the mother smokes or is an abusive drinker is often not included on questionnaires or reported to insurance companies. Cocaine and crack use are another source and often difficult to determine when the disease is later diagnosed. Central nervous system damage, brain damage, organ impairment and blood vessel complications, low birth weight and premature birth all result from crack and cocaine use. Cerebral palsy can be the result, in addition to a host of other impairments including autism.

Fetal alcohol syndrome debilitates a number of systems and can cause microcephaly, facial dysmorphisms, severe intrauterine growth restriction, mental retardation and cerebral palsy. It has been estimated that 8% of children suffering from fetal alcohol syndrome later contract cerebral palsy. This percentage may be higher in developing nations where the abuse of alcohol may go unnoted. In addition, neuronal migration in inhibited by alcohol in the fetus and can lead to CP.

Cigarette smoking lowers birth weight. Low birth weight and premature birth are primary risk factors for cerebral palsy. This is another variable that may not be revealing itself in its real numbers.

Environmental agents can contribute to causation, some occurring outside the awareness of the mother, or even the culture. These toxic environmental influences can effect the neonate. These variables are particularly difficult to isolate, since they can work in association with other factors. One of the first documented cases of environmental agents negatively influencing the growth of the fetus occurred in Japan.

“There have been a number of specific incidents where the number of children affected in certain geographical areas increased temporarily due to environmental pollution. An epidemic of CP occurred in Minamata Bay, Japan, between 1953 and 1971. This was eventually found to be related to methyl mercury in fish which had been consumed by pregnant women. The discharge of methyl mercury had come from a vinyl chloride acetaldehyde plant.” (Miller & Bachrach)

In addition to those substances consumed consciously by the mother, there are those agents, industrial pollutants and environmental toxins, which on their own or in combination with other risk factors can lead to congenital malformations evidencing themselves as cerebral palsy.

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Miller, Freeman & Bachrach, Steven J. (1995) Cerebral Palsy: A Complete Guide for Caregiving. The John Hopkins University Press

Stanton, Marion, (2002) The Cerebral Palsy Handbook. Vermillion

Stanley, Fiona, Blair, Eve, Alberman, Eva. (2000) Cerebral Palsies: Epidemiology & Causal Pathways. Mac Keith Press

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Causes of Cerebral Palsy: Origins, Etiology, Aetiology, Causal Pathways