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Cerebral palsy is the term applied to a variety of conditions and outcomes which all fall in the category of "static encephalopathies." That is to say that injury has occurred to the brain which is not progressive.
In short, children with cerebral palsy have suffered permanent brain injury, usually due to events before, during or shortly after birth. Babies who are grossly premature, who suffer from premature lung (hyaline membrane) disease, suffer severe intrauterine distress (meaning they don't get enough oxygen), or experience very high levels of bilirubin in the bloodstream after birth are most at risk.
Children with cerebral palsy have specifically suffered injury to the motor (muscle movement) areas of the brain but may have been spared damage to intellectual function. Indeed, some adults with cerebral palsy are very intelligent and have had gifted careers. Other children are not as fortunate and may suffer from associated developmental and intellectual deficits.
Because the term cerebral palsy is applied to such a wide range of conditions, it is often replaced by other more descriptive diagnoses in recognition of the many ways it can arise, its many different manifestations, and the fact that patients can vary so widely in their abilities.
The prevention of cerebral palsy rests with improved obstetrical care, but mainly with the prevention of premature, low birth weight delivery. This means the prevention of teen pregancy and good prenatal care for all expectant mothers of whatever age.