- CP is caused by lesions (damage) to parts of the brain that are important to motor function or balance. The cause of these lesions is not always easily determined. Although the onset of CP may be intrapartum (during childbirth) or postnatal, most cases of CP have a prenatal origin. The process of pinpointing specific neural causes for specific symptoms is still in its nascent stages.
Prenatal maternal infections (German measles, for instance) can interfere with fetal neural development.
Placental Vascular Lesions: Damage to the vasculature of the placenta can damage fetal neural tissue, which can lead to prenatal CP.
Jaundice: High concentrations of bile pigments resulting from jaundice can damage developing neurons, which can lead to prenatal CP
Strokes: Prenatal strokes cause brain damage caused that can lead to CP.
Asphyxia: Most recent evidence suggests that asphyxia plays a limited but definite role in causing CP. Lack of oxygen to the brain during labor (intrapartum asphyxia), can lead to the death of striatal neurons and the inhibition of the growth of striatal efferents to two structures in the brain that are important for movement: the globus pallidus and the substantia nigra.
Approximately 10 to 20 percent of CP cases are acquired after birth.
Postnatal CP can be caused by infections such as bacterial meningitis, viral encephalitis, or by head injuries due to accident or child abuse.