When planning a family, many couples will visit their respective doctors for a pre-conception check-up to assess and discuss reproductive health. Reproductive health status provides the couple with a medical professional’s opinion on whether any known risk factors exist. The check-up will also allow for proper care and management of chronic health conditions prior to conception and throughout the pregnancy. Some health conditions, such as infections and blood type incompatibilities, should be properly managed during pregnancy, labor and delivery.

Some couples, however, don’t have the luxury of pre-planning a pregnancy. If a woman should discover she is pregnant, prenatal care should be scheduled to plan and provide for a healthy pregnancy. An obstetrician/gynecologist (OB/GYN) is trained to assess threatening health conditions and manage extenuating circumstances. A man’s primary health care provider can be of assistance, as well.

Couples and health care providers work together to identify and manage risk factors. A pregnant mother should make a concerted effort to become aware of risks to a healthy pregnancy. This includes items like exposure to hair dye, eating certain types of seafood, fertilizing the lawn, utilizing some cleaning products, inhaling second-hand cigarette smoke, drinking wine, and changing cat’s liter during pregnancy can subject the unborn baby to risk of developing cerebral palsy.

Parents of a child recently diagnosed with cerebral palsy may attempt to better understand the cause of their child’s condition in order to potentially prevent impairment to any other child they may conceive at a later date. Becoming aware of risk factors can help prevent birth defects, cerebral palsy, or children being born with some form of special needs.

Following are some commonly known risk factors that can lead to the development of cerebral palsy. The presence of one or more of these risk factors does not ensure a child will develop cerebral palsy, nor does the absence of risk factors ensure a child will not have cerebral palsy. Risk factors merely identify cause for concern.

Avoiding risk factors will help prevent a child from developing cerebral palsy; any exposure to risk factors prior to conception and during pregnancy should be discussed with a doctor in order to effectively treat and minimize risk. This list is not meant to be all-inclusive; other risk factors may contribute to the development of cerebral palsy, as well.




Birth Date

Wks Gestation

Birth Height

Birth Weight


Blood Type


  • Umbilical cord problems, such as a prolapsed cord, that can choke the child during delivery
  • Excessive hemorrhaging (bleeding) while pregnant or during delivery
  • Abnormal presentation where the baby does not enter the birth canal head first during labor
  • Prolonged or traumatic delivery due to the baby’s head being too large to fit through the birth canal, known as cephalopelvic disproportion
  • Delivery involving shoulder dystocia, a very serious situation where one or both shoulders impede delivery
  • Maternal shock, a complication of heavy bleeding and fetal distress which can lead to placenta abruption
  • Other
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Asphyxia (Oxygen Deprivation)


  • Abnormal presentation or breech birth in which the baby enters the birth canal in a manner other than head first
  • Emergency caesarean sections (C-sections)
  • Prolonged second stage of delivery (from when the cervix is dilated to 10 cm through delivery)
  • Premature separation of the placenta from the mother’s uterus
  • Premature rupture of the membranes in which the amniotic sac ruptures prior to labor
  • APGAR score outside of normal range
  • Other
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Complicated Birth


  • Pre-term labor and delivery – Before 37 weeks gestation
  • Full-term labor and delivery – During 37 to 42 Weeks gestation
  • Late-term labor and delivery – After 42 weeks gestation
  • First pregnancy
  • Prior premature delivery
  • High risk pregnancy
  • NICU stay
  • Respiratory problems
  • Other
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Premature Birth


  • Extremely low birth weight – Below 2 lbs., 3 oz. (Below 1,000 grams)
  • Very low birth eight – Between 2 lbs., 3 oz and 3 lbs., 5 oz. (1,001 – 1,500 grams)
  • Low birth weight - Between 3 lbs., 5 oz. and 5 lbs., 8 oz. (1,501 to 2,500 grams)
  • Normal birth eight - Between 5 lbs., 8 oz. and 8 lbs., 15 oz. (2,501 to 4,079 grams)
  • High birth weight - 9 lbs. and above (4,080 grams and above)
  • Pre-term birth – Baby born before 37 week gestation
  • Overdue birth – After 42 weeks gestation
  • Lungs not fully developed
  • Other
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Traumatic Brain Damage


  • Infertility drugs used
  • Multiple birth and premature rupture of membranes
  • Multiple birth and umbilical cord accidents in delivery
  • Multiple birth and umbilical cord and abnormal presentation during delivery
  • Multiple birth and cesarean sections
  • Multiple birth and low birth weight
  • Multiple birth and premature birth
  • NICU stay
  • Other
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Multiple Births and Infertility Treatment


  • Bacterial Infection - includes bladder infection, urinary tract infection, Group B streptococcus, kidney infection, sepsis, placenta infection, amniotic fluid infection, and choriamnionitis
  • Viral infection – includes viral hepatitis, meningitis, rubella (german measles), varicella (chicken pox), cytomegalovirus (CNV), human parvovirus, coxsackievirus, listerosis-listeria, and salmonella
  • Fungal infection – candidiasis (yeast infection), vaginosis, and vaginal moniliasis
  • Parasitic infection – includes toxoplasmosis
  • Sexually transmitted infections - includes syphilis, gonorrhea, herpes simplex virus, chlamydia and human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Other
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  • Rh blood type incompatibility
  • A-B-O blood type incompatibility
  • Erythroblastosis fetalis
  • Jaundice
  • Kernicterus
  • Other
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Blood Type Incompatibility or Jaundice


  • Parental age – includes biological immaturity and advanced parental age
  • Parental weight and height – includes overweight, underweight (under 100 pounds), malnourished, vitamin deficiency, amino acid deficiency, and eating disorders. Also, mothers under 5 feet tall are at risk
  • Parental genetic disorders – includes prior pregnancies where baby has a genetic disorder or birth defect
  • Reproductive abnormalities – includes small pelvis, prior complicated pregnancies (miscarriage, abnormal fetal position, required cesareans, stillbirths, underweight babies, birth defects, premature infants), double uterus, and incompetent cervix
  • Maternal chronic health disorders - includes gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, asthma, annemia, thyroid, autoimmune disorders, coagulation disorders, thrombophilic factors, seizures, epilepsy, preclampisa, severe toxemia, hypertension and progesterone insufficiency
  • Parental exposure to toxins – includes exposure to lead, mercury, pesticides, herbicides, flame retardants, plastics, cleaning products, kitty litter, hair dye, and harmful environmental toxins
  • Parental radiation damage – includes damage from chemotherapy, radiation or cancer treatments
  • Parental habits – includes alcohol, illegal drugs, harmful prescription drugs, and nicotine ingestion
  • Lack of adequate access to health care – includes lack of prenatal care, lack of access to health care, lack of insurance
  • Other
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Parental Health and Habits


  • Placental abruption – when the placenta detaches from the inside wall of the uterus too early, before the baby is born
  • Placenta previa – when the placenta attaches to the lower part of uterine wall and covers the cervix, causing excessive bleeding before or during delivery
  • Placenta accreta – when the placenta attaches deeply into the uterine wall.
  • Placental infarctions – when scarring of the placenta affects one-third to one-half of the placenta affecting blood supply to fetus
  • Placenta did not grow properly – includes placenta too thick, placenta too thin, placenta too short (30 centimeters or less), placenta too long (110 centimeters or more), or placenta has extra lobe
  • Placenta positioned poorly in uterus – placenta abnormally connected to the umbilical cord or fetal membranes
  • Placenta did not function properly – reduction in the flow of blood and nutrients to the fetus, abnormal placenta, or placenta insufficiency
  • Damage to the placenta – includes infections, blood clots, and meconium stained placenta
  • Other
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Placenta Complications


  • Intrauterine growth restriction
  • Chromosomal abnormalities
  • Drub and alcohol abuse
  • Maternal high blood pressure or heart disease
  • Poor nutrition
  • Preeclampsia or eclampsia
  • Placenta problems
  • Other
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Intrauterine Growth Restriction