ZocdocAnswersCan cerebral palsy be passed down through a family?

Question

Can cerebral palsy be passed down through a family?

My brother died from complications due to cerebral palsy. I'm worried that my children might have it too. Can it be passed down through the family? Is it hereditary?

Answer

Cerebral palsy is a medical condition characterized primarily by a lack of muscle control and movement due to an abnormality or disruption of brain development. While in many cases the exact trigger of this abnormality is not clearly identified, there is evidence that links to both the health condition of the mother and child occurring before, during, and shortly after birth to cause such abnormality. Typical causes include asphyxia (a lack of oxygen in the brain due to an interruption in breathing or poor oxygen supply) during a difficult labor or delivery, maternal infections that affect the developing fetus, infant infections causing inflammation in or around the brain, fetal stroke due to a disruption of blood supply to the developing brain, radiation or infections while the baby is still in the uterus or during birth, and trauma head injury. As of today, there is no identifiable gene that involves in the development of cerebral palsy. Therefore, it is not a hereditary condition. However, I should stress that just because there is no gene well defined, it doesn't mean that genes play no role. For instance, random mutations in the genes that control brain development can keep the brain from developing normally and therefore may increase the risk of developing cerebral palsy. If you have any concerns, I would suggest an appointment for your children to have a well-being visit with a primary care physician or pediatrician.

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