Is Cerebral Palsy Genetic?

To give you an idea about genetic variation between each of us, there are about three million differences in our genetic code. They go to influence the color of our hair and the color of our eyes, the way we walk.

So it stands to reason that cerebral palsy, like other developmental disabilities might be influenced by our genetic code.

While in two-thirds of the cases there might be something to explain why the cerebral palsy occurred, such as prematurity or growth or birth asphyxia, in up to one third of cases, we don't have a good explanation. And it's in this group particularly that we're interested in the genetic influence. When this happens, individuals have problems with their development and with the way they think or the way they move.

One of the other interesting things that's happening in select groups of people with cerebral palsy is an understanding of fine changes in the genetic code. In select groups, this allows us to understand in fine detail what's causing the cerebral palsy. And we're recognizing the genes which we know from other conditions like spastic paraparesis or Parkinson's disease are in fact influencing why people develop cerebral palsy.

With this information, we gain new insights into brain development and new understandings about how the genetic code affects us as people. While these are exciting genetic tools and research is always interesting, it won't influence what happens with your child today.

And I think the important thing is we love them for the individual that they are. And we recognize that all of us have genetic variations that go towards making us into the people that we are.

"The important thing is we love them for the individual that they are."