Brain trauma can cause cerebral palsy in a fetus, infant, or toddler. The most effective way to reduce the chances of cerebral palsy is to maintain a healthy lifestyle and protect your baby before, during, and after your pregnancy.
- Step 1: Prevent infant and child head injuries by using a secure car seat. Trauma to an infant or child's head can cause cerebral palsy. The better care you take of yourself, the less likely it is that your child will have cerebral palsy.
- FACT: It is estimated that 2 of every 1,000 infants born in the United States have cerebral palsy.
- Step 2: Avoid alcohol, smoking, and illicit drugs during pregnancy. Alcohol, tobacco, and drug abuse can cause brain damage in an unborn child and lead to the development of cerebral palsy.
- Step 3: Talk to your doctor about prenatal care. Doctors can spot health problems early on in the pregnancy and may be able to correct or treat health issues before they become a problem.
- Step 4: Get enough folic acid supplements for a year before you become pregnant to reduce the risk of birth defects and premature birth. Cerebral palsy occurs more often in babies that are premature.
- TIP: A number of breakfast cereals are fortified with folic acid. Check labels to see if your cereal is fortified and contains the amount you need.
- TIP: Your doctor can run a test to see if you are immune to rubella or if you need the vaccine.