Cerebral Palsy Symptoms

A child with cerebral palsy does not usually show symptoms at birth, though the cause of this condition can be pinpointed to something that occurred before or during birth. Symptoms of cerebral palsy usually begin to develop between the age of 18 months and three years. In more exceptional cases, however, symptoms of cerebral palsy may develop as early as three months of age.

Early symptoms of Cerebral Palsy

While symptoms of cerebral palsy often take months to develop, some early signs of this condition can include:

  • Problems with sucking and swallowing
  • An especially weak or shrill cry
  • Hypotonia, or marked decrease in muscle tone
  • Hypertonia, or marked increases in muscle tone

As with most of the possible symptoms of cerebral palsy, it is important to keep in mind that such conditions do not automatically mean a child has cerebral palsy. It is important to seek proper medical attention in order to rule out or diagnose cerebral palsy.

Other common symptoms of cerebral palsy which can develop in the first three years of a child’s life include the following.

Delay in Reaching Developmental Milestones


As all children develop through the first 18 months of life and beyond, they progress through a series of developmental milestones. For example, smiling, learning to roll over, learning to sit up and learning to crawl are all things infants do within a predicable period of time. One of the first symptoms of cerebral palsy is when a child takes longer to reach these milestones than other children, often because of motor impairments. Furthermore, retaining infantile reflexes, such as the Moro, sucking, startle or step reflexes, for longer than normal (3 to 6 months) may also be a symptom of cerebral palsy.

It is important to note however, that delays in reaching developmental achievements do not automatically mean a child has cerebral palsy.

Hand preference

Another possible symptom of cerebral palsy is failing to show hand preference before the age of 18 months. Most babies begin to show a preference for using either their left or right hand before this age. Because cerebral palsy can cause weakness or abnormal muscle tone on one side of the body, failure to show hand preference may be a symptom of cerebral palsy.

Additional Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy

While these do not occur in all children with cerebral palsy, any of the following symptoms may indicate that a child has this condition:

  • Seizures
  • Irregular breathing
  • Hearing, speech or visual abnormalities
  • Progressive joint contractures or loss of joint motion caused by muscle tension
  • Some indication of heightened or hindered mental ability

In addition to these possible symptoms of cerebral palsy, other symptoms may be present that are only obvious to the trained medical professional. If your child or loved one begins to present the possible symptoms of cerebral palsy, it is crucial to seek a proper medical diagnosis of cerebral palsy or rule out this condition. Please click here to learn more about cerebral palsy diagnosis.

If your child has developed cerebral palsy and you wish to learn more about the possible causes, you may wish to consider consulting a legal professional who can evaluate your situation to determine if medical negligence might be to blame. While this is not always the case, such instances may allow a family to seek help in paying for their medical expenses, losses and more. Please contact the qualified attorneys at Injury Lawyer Omaha * Injury Lawyer Omaha * Cohn to learn more about cerebral palsy and your legal rights.

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