Pregnant With Cerebral Palsy Complications During Birth

What cerebral palsy complications can occur during birth?

Cerebral Palsy Complications that increase a child’s chance of developing Cerebral Palsy can arise during pregnancy or during labor and delivery. Formerly, it was believed a complicated birth (in combination with asphyxia) was the sole cause of Cerebral Palsy. Now it’s known that complicated birth in combination with asphyxia accounts only for a relatively small percentage of Cerebral Palsy cases, less than 10%.Research indicates that events occurring during fetal development can also cause complicated delivery.

Apgar Score

Newborns are tested after birth and assigned an Apgar score. An Apgar score is a method to quickly summarize an infant’s health based on respiration, muscle tone, reflexes, color, and heart. A low Apgar score is a significant risk factor for Cerebral Palsy. Newborns are evaluated at one minute and five minutes after birth, and at subsequent intervals, if necessary. Five criteria are scored on a scale of 0 to 2 (for the one minute and five minute readings). Both scores are added together. A score of:

  • Normal – 7 to 10
  • Low – 4 to 6 low
  • Critical – 0 to 3

The five criteria are:

  • A: Appearance – skin color and complexion
  • P: Pulse – heart rate
  • G: Grimace Response – crying or grimacing when stimulated
  • A: Activity – muscle tone where flexed arms and legs resist straightening
  • R: Respiration – quality of breathing, based on rate and effort


Other birth Cerebral Palsy Complications heighten the odds of asphyxia occurring, or increase probability that a child will develop Cerebral Palsy. These Cerebral Palsy Complications include but are not limited to:

  • Abnormal presentation or breech birth in which the baby enters the birth canal in a manner other than head first
  • Emergency cesarean sections (C-sections)
  • Prolonged second stage of delivery (from the point when the cervix is dilated to 10 cm through delivery)
  • Premature separation of the placenta from the mother’s uterus  Cerebral Palsy
  • Premature rupture of the membranes in which the amniotic sac ruptures prior to labor.