Signs of cerebral palsy usually appear in the first few months of your child’s life. However, there are times when symptoms may not be noticeable until your child is 18 months to 2 years old. Understanding the early signs of cerebral palsy in an infant can help you receive a diagnosis earlier and begin treatment for your child.
Common Signs of Cerebral Palsy
There are some common signs of cerebral palsy you can begin looking for starting at birth. These include, but are not limited to:
- Abnormal muscle tone
- Abnormal posture
- Developmental delays
A child who finds it difficult to roll over, sit, crawl, or walk, may have developmental delays. A baby with body parts that are very stiff or very loose could be experiencing abnormal muscle tone. If your baby uses one side more than the other when it is crawling, reaching, or moving around, that could indicate abnormal posture.
CP in Infants Younger Than Six Months
If your child is younger than six months, there are some signs and symptoms you can look out for that are specific to that age range. If your child cannot hold their head up when you pick them up from lying on their back or if they feel stiff or floppy when you pick them up, you may want to have them tested for cerebral palsy.
A baby with cerebral palsy may also stiffen or cross their legs when you pick them up. They may overextend their back and neck, almost as if they are trying to push away from you.
CP in Infants Between Six and 10 Months
If your child is over the age of six months and cannot roll over, that may be a sign they have cerebral palsy. A child over six months should be able to bring their hand to their mouth, and they should not have difficulty bringing their hands together. Also, they may only reach out with one hand, holding the other in a fist.
Other Signs and Symptoms
There are other signs and symptoms to watch out for in an infant. If you notice your baby is having trouble feeding or swallowing, you will want to talk to your pediatrician. Muscle spasms are another common sign that your child may have cerebral palsy.
When Is Cerebral Palsy Normally Diagnosed?
Cerebral palsy is a complex disorder, and it may be difficult to diagnose. Because being born prematurely is a risk factor for cerebral palsy, babies born early should be monitored more carefully than babies born in normal parameters. However, it is not just premature infants who may develop cerebral palsy. Most kids with cerebral palsy will not be diagnosed until parents notice they are not reaching the proper milestones.
Often an MRI is ordered to find if there was an injury to the brain. Nevertheless, very young children may not have had enough brain development to determine whether they have cerebral palsy or not.
General Movements Assessment
One way that pediatricians diagnose cerebral palsy is through a General Movements Assessment. This assessment can be conducted between birth and five months. It is a valuable tool in diagnosing cerebral palsy, especially when used in conjunction with an MRI that may have shown abnormal areas on the brain.
If the assessment shows the possibility of cerebral palsy in a very young child, early interventions can begin in order to minimize problems later in life.
If you believe your child has cerebral palsy that was caused by the negligence or carelessness of someone else, get in contact with a cerebral palsy lawyer. A qualified attorney can review your case and inform you of the rights you have under the law.