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Establishing the Diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy

PANETH, NIGEL MD, MPH

Clinical Obstetrics & Gynecology: December 2008 - Volume 51 - Issue 4 - pp 742-748
doi: 10.1097/GRF.0b013e318187081a
Diagnosis, Prevention, and Treatment of Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy (CP) is a diagnosis of considerable concern to obstetricians, but the diagnosis of CP can be challenging, and may need to be confirmed by an experienced practitioner, ideally a child neurologist or psychiatrist. It is important not to make the diagnosis too early in infancy, especially when the signs are not severe, as resolution of early neuromotor abnormalities does occur, particularly in premature infants. Exclusion of genetic/metabolic disorders presenting with CP-like findings is important. The degree of activity limitation should be characterized; labeling children as having CP on the basis of abnormal examination findings alone without evidence of activity limitation is not useful. Brain imaging can be helpful in pinpointing the location of the underlying brain abnormality and sometimes provides etiologically useful information.

Departments of Epidemiology and Pediatrics and Human Development, College of Human Medicine, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan

Correspondence: Nigel Paneth, MD, MPH, Departments of Epidemiology and Pediatrics and Human Development, College of Human Medicine, Michigan State University, B636 West Fee Hall, East Lansing, MI 48823. E-mail: paneth@msu.edu

© 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.