Statistics for Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy affects the nervous system and the way the brain handles the control of muscles, primarily causing problems with movement and posture. It is caused before or shortly after birth when damage or an abnormality impedes the normal functioning of the brain. Other factors include infection in the mother during pregnancy, premature birth or a difficult birth, and gene mutations that impact on the development of the brain.
Children suffering from cerebral palsy may experience muscle stiffness or weakness and have uncontrolled body movements, as well as other co-ordination problems. The severity of cerebral palsy can vary considerably with some people having a few minor problems to others who are severely disabled and may also have communication and learning issues.
- Around the world, incidence of cerebral palsy varies from about 1.5 to 4 per thousand of the population.
- Globally it’s estimated that around 17 million people have cerebral palsy, affecting their mobility to some degree.
- Cerebral palsy is 5 to 10 times more likely to occur in poorer countries
- Predictions of the severity of cerebral palsy and its impact on an individual’s life are more accurate at about 2 years of age.
- Cerebral palsy is commonly accompanied by other factors which need management in severe cases and which can include pain, epilepsy and blindness.
- 1 in 3 individuals with cerebral palsy are unable to walk unaided.
- 1 in 4 are unable to talk and 1 in 5 has a sleep disorder.
In the USA:
- About three quarters of a million children and adults in the USA are thought to have cerebral palsy.
- 10,000 children are born each year with the condition.
- Spastic cerebral palsy is the most prevalent condition, affecting nearly 77% of CP cases. This arises from damage to the motor cortex in the brain and can cause the muscles to appear stiff or tight.
In Europe and the UK:
- The rate of cerebral palsy increases for babies born early or with a low birth weight.
- In Europe the incidence of cerebral palsy has declined in recent years from 1.9 to 1.77 per thousand births.
- The UK sees around 1,800 new cases of cerebral palsy each year, based on an incidence of 1 in 400 and a birth rate of 700,000.
- Spastic cerebral palsy accounts for about 75% of cases: symptoms include stiffness of the limbs with legs and arms affected to varying levels.
- Athetoid cerebral palsy accounts for about 20% of cases: symptoms include unintended or sudden movements.
- Ataxic cerebral palsy accounts for about 5% of cases: symptoms are much less obvious but may include balance issues and lack of spatial awareness.
In the developing world, cerebral palsy shows a similar spread but is more prevalent often because of the various health issues and lack of maternity services:
What is Cerebral Palsy?
International Cerebral Palsy Society
Supporting Families Affected by Cerebral Palsy
United Cerebral Palsy: The Case for Inclusion