My 2½-year-old daughter has cerebral palsy. Is it safe for me to have another child? Would that child have the same problems my daughter has?
Jennifer, since you have one child with cerebral palsy, it’s natural for you to wonder whether you might have another child with the same condition. Approximately 1 in 300 children has cerebral palsy, a problem with movement and posture.
Cerebral palsy results from malformation or damage to the baby’s developing brain during pregnancy, delivery, or infancy. There are many different causes of cerebral palsy including genetic syndromes, chromosome abnormalities, serious infection during pregnancy, alcohol or drugs during pregnancy, medical complications during pregnancy, premature delivery, complications during labor and delivery, and brain infection during infancy. In about one-quarter of the cases, the cause of cerebral palsy is never determined.
It would be best for you to talk with your pediatrician and obstetrician to see whether they have determined the cause of your child’s cerebral palsy. You might also ask them for a referral to a genetic counselor for an evaluation. If your child has a genetic syndrome or a chromosomal abnormality, the genetic counselor can help determine your chance of having the same problem in another pregnancy, and tell you whether prenatal testing might be available. If the cerebral palsy resulted from a complication of pregnancy, your obstetrician could tell you the likelihood that the problem would recur with another pregnancy and develop a plan for closer monitoring during pregnancy to try to prevent the problem.
Our parenting advice is given as suggestions only. We recommend you also consult your healthcare provider, and urge you to contact them immediately if your question is urgent or about a medical condition.