What can we help you find?
Top searches

Cerebral palsy statistics

Cerebral palsy (CP) is a disorder that impacts muscle tone, movement, and posture. It affects about 1 million people in the United States. Symptoms of cerebral palsy include weak arms and legs, muscle spasms, chronic pain, and delays in reaching developmental milestones. By understanding cerebral palsy statistics, affected families can better prepare to care for their children.

Did you know?

About 70% of cerebral palsy cases result from a birth injury. Was your child one of them?

Free case review

Cerebral palsy incidence

Cerebral palsy is one of the most common childhood disabilities. To help families better understand their child’s condition, the team at Cerebral Palsy Guide has compiled some of the most important cerebral palsy statistics.

Top cerebral palsy facts and statistics include:
  • The prevalence of CP in the U.S. is 1 out of 345 children.
  • Cerebral palsy is usually not diagnosed until a child is 2 to 3 years old.
  • Cerebral palsy is more common in boys than girls.
  • Cerebral palsy is more common in Black children than in white children.
  • Children with low birth weights are more likely to develop CP.

Here are some additional cerebral palsy statistics to help you understand how widespread the condition is.

How many people have cerebral palsy in the U.S.?

Around 1 million people of all ages have cerebral palsy in the U.S., according to the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Foundation (CPARF).

According to the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network, the incidence of cerebral palsy in U.S. children is 1 in 345 (or 3 per 1,000 8-year-old children).

What are cerebral palsy statistics worldwide?

CPARF estimates that approximately 18 million people of all ages have the condition globally.

Cerebral palsy birth injury statistics

CP is often caused by birth injuries, such as lack of oxygen, head trauma, and untreated infections.

Here are some cerebral palsy statistics related to birth injuries:
  • 20% of CP cases are caused by labor and delivery events
  • 70% are caused by events during pregnancy
  • Roughly 10% of asphyxia (lack of oxygen) events result in cerebral palsy

Some families are told there is no way to know what caused their child’s CP. However, it is not uncommon for hospitals and health care professionals to hide mistakes that were made.

If you think your child’s cerebral palsy could have been avoided with proper care, connect with our registered nurses now. They can talk with you in confidence about what may have really happened to cause your child’s CP.

Statistics on other causes of cerebral palsy

According to the American Pregnancy Association, around 10% of children develop CP due to injuries to the developing brain that happen during the first 2 years of life. Common causes of these injuries are brain trauma, head injuries, and brain infections, such as meningitis.

Genetic mutations may also cause CP. One study revealed that 14% of CP cases involve single-gene mutations, and up to 31% have clinically relevant copy number variations (when segments of DNA are repeated).

Statistics of cerebral palsy risk factors

CP risk factors are variables that increase the chance of developing the condition. Here are some cerebral palsy statistics and facts on risk factors.

Age of the mother

Mothers younger than 20 and older than 34 have an increased risk of giving birth to a baby with cerebral palsy. According to a study published in Pediatric Neurology, out of 1,319 children with CP, 19% had mothers 35 or older, and 4% of children had mothers under 20.

Economic factors

A Pediatrics study revealed that women with lower incomes tend to be at a higher risk of having a baby that develops CP.

Maternal health during pregnancy

Mothers with certain health conditions are more likely to have children with CP. These conditions include seizures, obesity, abnormal thyroid function, an overabundance of protein in the urine, and developmental and intellectual disabilities.

Race and ethnicity

According to another study, Black children were 29% more likely to have CP than white and Hispanic children, and Asian children were 20% less likely to have cerebral palsy than white children. There was no difference between white and Hispanic children.


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), males are more likely to have CP than females.

Cerebral palsy statistics by type

There are four main types of cerebral palsy: spastic, athetoid (dyskinetic), ataxic, and mixed. Here are some facts and statistics of cerebral palsy by type.

Spastic cerebral palsy

According to the CDC, 75% to 85% of children with CP have spastic CP. This condition makes muscles stiff, resulting in awkward movements and impaired walking ability.

Athetoid cerebral palsy

Athetoid (dyskinetic) CP is usually associated with damage to parts of the brain called the basal ganglia and cerebellum, resulting in developmental delays, involuntary muscle movements, and physical difficulties.

A Swedish study of children with CP born between 1995 and 1998 showed that dyskinetic cerebral palsy accounted for 15% of CP cases.

Ataxic cerebral palsy

Ataxic cerebral palsy causes a lack of coordination and balance. It is the rarest type of CP. The same Swedish study revealed that ataxic CP accounted for 6% of CP cases.

Mixed cerebral palsy

Damage to different parts of the brain may cause children to develop a combination of two or more types of CP. Mixed CP accounts for 15.4% of all cases. The most common mixed type CP is a combination of spastic and dyskinetic.

Download our comprehensive guide to get more information and resources on the different types of cerebral palsy.

Free Cerebral Palsy Guide

  • Diagnosis and prognosis
  • Treatments and therapies
  • Financial support options
Get your free guide

Statistics of cerebral palsy and co-occurring health issues

CP often occurs with other health issues, such as autism and epilepsy. Below are some statistics of cerebral palsy and co-occurring health conditions.

Cerebral palsy statistics on autism

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability affecting communication and interaction abilities. According to the CDC, 10% of children with CP also have an autism spectrum disorder.

Cerebral palsy statistics on epilepsy

Epilepsy is a brain disorder that causes unprovoked, recurring seizures. You must have two unprovoked seizures at least 24 hours apart to be diagnosed with epilepsy.

Many people with CP also have epilepsy. In fact, according to the CDC, 40% of children with CP also have epilepsy.

Cerebral palsy statistics on other health issues

The CDC reports that people with cerebral palsy may have other conditions, such as intellectual disability (45%), spine problems (up to 80% of children with full body involvement in CP), vision impairment, and joint problems.

Statistics of cerebral palsy costs

According to the CDC, medical costs were 10 times higher for children with CP than for children without CP or intellectual disability. The CDC estimated that it costs over $1.6 million (adjusted for 2023) to provide lifetime care for a person with CP.

A population-based study conducted in Australia revealed that two-thirds of individuals with CP cannot actively work, which means they cannot pay for their own care.

However, when CP is caused by medical malpractice, compensation may be available through a cerebral palsy lawsuit.

Cerebral palsy lawsuits

When CP is caused by negligence, families may have legal options. Successful cerebral palsy lawsuits can provide financial compensation for medical expenses, ongoing care, and more.

If you are interested in filing a cerebral palsy lawsuit, get a free case review now to see if we can help.

Cerebral palsy statistics on treatment options

Although CP is not curable, there are interventions that can help people with CP live full and happy lives

Here are some statistics about cerebral palsy treatments:

Surgery for CP

Certain CP surgeries can help people with the condition improve their mobility.

For example, dorsal rhizotomy is a spinal operation that can help people with CP walk.

In a study of 30 selective dorsal rhizotomy patients:
  • 90% reported improved walking
  • 87% reported improved posture and balance
  • 63% reported better sitting
  • 43% had less pain in the back and legs
  • 33% were pain-free
Therapy for CP

Children receiving functional physical therapy (physical therapy that emphasizes practicing functional activities) improved more than children whose physical therapy was based on normalizing movements, according to one study.

Treatment outcomes

According to a King Edward Medical University/Mayo Hospital 2021 study on the effectiveness of treatment in 200 children with CP, approximately 40.5% of patients received good outcomes.

Get help for a cerebral palsy diagnosis

Learning that your child has cerebral palsy can be devastating. It can also mean that your family will have expenses you hadn’t prepared for, especially if your child requires extensive medical care, special equipment, and ongoing therapy.

Cerebral Palsy Guide is here to help. If you are interested in filing a birth injury lawsuit, reach out to us now. We partner with some of the best cerebral palsy law firms in the country, and we can connect you if you qualify.

Get started right now by calling (855) 220-1101 or filling out our contact form.

Cerebral palsy statistics FAQs

What are the odds of having a baby with cerebral palsy?

Cerebral palsy affects about 1 in every 345 children in the U.S., with higher rates among males and Black children.

What are 5 facts about cerebral palsy?

Here are five key insights revealed by cerebral palsy statistics:

  1. Cerebral palsy affects about 1 million people in the United States.
  2. CP can be caused by factors like premature birth, head trauma, and maternal infections.
  3. Cerebral palsy is a non-progressive disorder, meaning it does not worsen over time.
  4. Walking and swallowing difficulties are common challenges faced by individuals with cerebral palsy.
  5. Early intervention and therapy can help manage symptoms and improve quality of life.

What is the average life expectancy for someone with cerebral palsy?

The average life expectancy for individuals with cerebral palsy is comparable to that of the general population.

Who is most at risk for cerebral palsy?

There is no specific group at the highest risk for cerebral palsy. However, cerebral palsy statistics show that factors like premature birth and low birth weight are associated with increased cerebral palsy cases.

What is the number one cause of cerebral palsy?

While there isn't a single number one cause of cerebral palsy, factors like brain injuries, premature birth, and maternal infections during pregnancy can contribute to the prevalence of cerebral palsy.

Cerebral Palsy Guide was founded upon the goal of educating families about cerebral palsy, raising awareness, and providing support for children, parents, and caregivers affected by the condition. Our easy-to-use website offers simple, straightforward information that provides families with medical and legal solutions. We are devoted to helping parents and children access the tools they need to live a life full of happiness

  1. Acta Paediatrica: Nurturing the Child. (2007, January 02). The changing panorama of cerebral palsy in Sweden. IX. Prevalence and origin in the birth-year period 1995–1998. Retrieved July 17, 2023, from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1651-2227.2005.tb03071.x
  2. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. (2015, May 21). Cerebral palsy: causes, pathways, and the role of genetic variants. Retrieved July 17, 2023, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26003063/
  3. American Pregnancy Association. (n.d.). Cerebral Palsy. Retrieved July 17, 2023, from https://americanpregnancy.org/healthy-pregnancy/birth-defects/cerebral-palsy/
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). (2022, March 28). Signs and Symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Retrieved July 17, 2023, from https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/signs.html
  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Cerebral Palsy (CP). (2023, February 23). 11 Things to Know about Cerebral Palsy. Retrieved July 17, 2023, from https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/cp/features/cerebral-palsy-11-things.html
  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Cerebral Palsy (CP). (2022, May 02). Causes and Risk Factors of Cerebral Palsy. Retrieved July 17, 2023, from https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/cp/causes.html
  7. Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Foundation. (n.d.). Cerebral Palsy Facts. Retrieved July 17, 2023, from https://cparf.org/what-is-cerebral-palsy/facts-about-cerebral-palsy/
  8. Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. (n.d.). Cerebral Palsy Spinal Disorders. Retrieved July 17, 2023, from https://www.chop.edu/conditions-diseases/cerebral-palsy-spinal-disorders
  9. Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. (n.d.). What are the risk factors for cerebral palsy? Retrieved July 17, 2023, from https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/cerebral-palsy/conditioninfo/risk-factors
  10. Forthun, I., Wilcox, A. J., Strandberg-Larsen, K., Moster, D., Nohr, E. A., Lie, R. T., Surén, P., & Tollånes, M. C. (2016, October 01). Maternal Prepregnancy BMI and Risk of Cerebral Palsy in Offspring. Pediatrics, 138(4), e20160874. Retrieved July 17, 2023, from https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2016-0874
  11. Frontiers in Neurology. (2021, December 14). Social Outcomes of School Leavers With Cerebral Palsy Living in Victoria. Retrieved July 17, 2023, from https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fneur.2021.753921/full
  12. Gillani, S. F. U. H. S., Rafique, A., Taqi, M., Chatta, M. A. U. H., Masood, F., Ahmad Blouch, T., & Awais, S. M. (2021, March 07). Effectiveness of Treatment in Children With Cerebral Palsy. Cureus, 13(3), e13754. Retrieved July 17, 2023, from https://doi.org/10.7759/cureus.13754
  13. Park, T. S., Joh, S., Walter, D. M., Meyer, N. L., & Dobbs, M. B. (2020, August 07). Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy for the Treatment of Spastic Hemiplegic Cerebral Palsy. Cureus, 12(8), e9605. Retrieved July 17, 2023, from https://doi.org/10.7759/cureus.9605
  14. Paul, S., Nahar, A., Bhagawati, M., & Kunwar, A. J. (2022, July 30). A Review on Recent Advances of Cerebral Palsy. Oxidative medicine and cellular longevity, 2022, 2622310. Retrieved July 17, 2023, from https://doi.org/10.1155/2022/2622310
  15. Reid, S. M., Meehan, E. M., Arnup, S. J., & Reddihough, D. S. (2018, April 18). Intellectual disability in cerebral palsy: a population-based retrospective study. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology. Retrieved July 17, 2023, from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/dmcn.13773
  16. Schneider, R. E., Ng, P., Zhang, X., Andersen, J., Buckley, D., Fehlings, D., Kirton, A., Wood, E., van Rensburg, E., Shevell, M. I., & Oskoui, M. (2018, February 12). The Association Between Maternal Age and Cerebral Palsy Risk Factors. Pediatric neurology, 82, 25–28. Retrieved July 17, 2023, from https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pediatrneurol.2018.01.005
  17. Wu, Y. W., Xing, G., Fuentes-Afflick, E., Danielson, B., Smith, L. H., & Gilbert, W. M. (2011, March 01). Racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic disparities in the prevalence of cerebral palsy. Pediatrics, 127(3), e674–e681. Retrieved July 17, 2023, from https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2010-1656