The term used to cover a range of conditions that involve some degree of paralysis from birth or early infancy, due to abnormal brain development or brain damage is called cerebral palsy. The brain damage can occur during pregnancy as a result of illness or viral infection for example German measles or placenta abnormalities.
The brain damage can also occur during birth, due to a lack of oxygen during a long or difficult labor or after birth, as a result of illness or infections like meningitis. Cerebral palsy affects 1 in 400 births in the UK and the severity of brain damage and subsequent symptoms differ with each individual case. In some instances, the paralysis may affect one side of the body (hemiplegia), both limbs (paraplegia), or all four limbs (tetraplegia). In other cases, the condition may result in lack of control of limbs, with slow involuntary writhing and jerky movements. Although not in all cases, some mental disabilities can also be seen as well as hearing, sight and speech impairment.
Although there is no cure, improvements in medicine have seen the reduction of infant fatalities and increased life expectancy and a better quality of life for an individual with cerebral palsy.
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