Cerebral palsy--don't delay

Dev Disabil Res Rev. 2011;17(2):114-29. doi: 10.1002/ddrr.1106.


Cerebral palsy (CP) is the most severe physical disability within the spectrum of developmental delay. CP is an umbrella term describing a group of motor disorders, accompanied by many associated impairments. The disability is a result of injuries to the developing brain occurring any time from the first trimester of pregnancy through to early childhood. However, for the great majority, their full etiological causal pathway remains unclear. It is important to discriminate as early as possible between: (a) mild or nonspecific motor delay, (b) developmental coordination disorder, (c) syndromes, (d) metabolic and progressive conditions, and (e) CP with its various motor types and distributions. The most promising predictive tool for CP is the general movements assessment, which assesses the quality of spontaneous movements of infants in the first 4 months of life. We propose a change in diagnostic practice. We recommend a shift away from referral for intervention following a formal (most often late) description of CP, to one of referral for intervention which occurs immediately once an infant is considered "at risk" of CP.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cerebral Palsy / diagnosis*
  • Cerebral Palsy / epidemiology
  • Cerebral Palsy / physiopathology
  • Early Diagnosis
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Movement / physiology
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Risk Assessment / methods