Cerebral Palsy Statistics

Statistics about cerebral palsy can help you understand the condition as a whole. By reviewing the most important facts and figures relating to cerebral palsy, you can better understand its causes, potential complications and treatments.

How Statistics Can Help

A cerebral palsy diagnosis can be distressing and overwhelming. It is normal for parents to worry when their child is first diagnosed or experiences warning signs of cerebral palsy. Focusing on the facts can help.

By understanding the common facts behind cerebral palsy statistics, you can make better-informed decisions about your child’s health care.

Fast Facts on Cerebral Palsy

  • The Cerebral Palsy Foundation states that cerebral palsy is the most common physical childhood disability.
  • According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 85 to 90 percent of all cases of cerebral palsy are congenital, meaning they are present at birth.
  • Cerebral palsy occurs more frequently among boys than among girls.
  • Though cerebral palsy nearly always starts at the time of birth, it is often not diagnosed until several years later. The Cerebral Palsy Foundation (CPF) states that children are typically diagnosed 24 months after they are born.
  • Cerebral palsy is a widespread global issue. Data collected by the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Foundation (CPARF) reveals that approximately 17 million people across the world are living with some form of the condition.
  • In the United States alone, nearly 1 million people are living with cerebral palsy.

Effects of Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is caused by brain damage around the time of birth. The damage can come shortly before, during or immediately after a child is born. Cerebral palsy can cause many different issues, as the brain is the body’s most complex organ.

There are four types of cerebral palsy: spastic, ataxic, dyskinetic and mixed type.  These different types affect the person’s control of their muscle tone, balance and/or body movements.

  • Spastic cerebral palsy is the most common type of the condition.
    • It appears in 70 to 80 percent of all people diagnosed with cerebral palsy, according to CPARF.
    • It causes extreme tension in the muscles.
    • It can lead to paralysis in two limbs, all four limbs or half the body.
  • Ataxic cerebral palsy causes problems with simple motor skills, like walking.
    • It occurs in 5 to 10 percent of all people with cerebral palsy.
  • Dyskinetic cerebral palsy causes random body movements.
    • It occurs in 5 to 20 percent of people with cerebral palsy.
  • If symptoms of two or more types of cerebral palsy occur together, it is known as a mixed type.

Because the brain damage that causes cerebral palsy is irreversible, the condition itself does not change. However, if its symptoms are left untreated, they can cause complications.

Issues Associated with Cerebral Palsy

There are many issues that go hand in hand with cerebral palsy. These issues affect different parts of a person’s mobility, speech, and mental abilities. When a child has another condition in addition to cerebral palsy, it is known as a co-occurring disorder.

  • The Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network (ADDM) collects data on people with cerebral palsy for the CDC. In a 2008 survey, they found that almost 50 percent of children with cerebral palsy had a co-occurring disorder like epilepsy or autism.

The Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Foundation states:

  • 1 in 2 children born with cerebral palsy will also have an intellectual disability
  • 1 in 3 will have extremely limited or no walking ability
  • 1 in 4 will be unable to speak
  • 1 in 4 will have epilepsy and accompanying seizures
  • 1 in 4 will have bladder control problems
  • 1 in 5 will have a sleep disorder
  • 3 in 4 will experience lifelong, chronic pain
  • 1 in 10 will have notable vision issues

How these issues develop depends on two factors:

  • What area(s) of the brain was damaged
  • How badly the brain was damaged

Cerebral Palsy Financial Statistics

  • The CDC reports that the medical care costs of children with cerebral palsy are 10 times higher than children without it. The care for children with an intellectual disability and cerebral palsy are 26 times higher than an average child.
  • According to a study conducted by researchers in Denmark, two-thirds of people with cerebral palsy will not be able to actively work. This means they will not be able to pay for their own care.

Statistics on Cerebral Palsy Organizations and Resources

There are many organizations and groups dedicated to spreading the word about cerebral palsy.

  • In the United States, organizations like United Cerebral Palsy and the Cerebral Palsy Foundation spread the word about the condition to national audiences. They can also help people affected by the condition find local resources.
  • World Cerebral Palsy day partners over 100 cerebral palsy organizations across dozens of countries to spread awareness about the condition. World Cerebral Palsy day is celebrated in early October each year.
Author:Birth Injury Justice Center
Birth Injury Justice Center

The Birth Injury Justice Center was founded in 2003 by a team of legal professionals to educate and empower victims and families affected by birth injuries. Our team is devoted to providing you with the best resources and legal information for all types of birth injuries.

Last modified: December 13, 2018

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