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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
- 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.
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.