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Cerebral palsy: not always what it seems
  1. Richard E Appleton1,
  2. Rajat Gupta2
  1. 1 The Roald Dahl EEG Unit, Neurophysiology Department, Alder Hey Children’s Health Park, Liverpool, UK
  2. 2 Department of Neurology, Birmingham Children’s Hospital, Birmingham, UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor Richard E Appleton, The Roald Dahl EEG Unit, Neurophysiology Department, Alder Hey Children’s Health Park, Liverpool L14 5AB, UK; richardappleton55{at}


Cerebral palsy (CP) is not a disease, but a neurological syndrome, a combination of signs and symptoms, some of which may occur in neurodegenerative or metabolic disorders, particularly those with an onset in the first 2 years of life. There are many different causes of the syndrome. All children with CP should undergo brain MRI, even with an identified antenatal or perinatal insult. Children with CP should be referred to a paediatric neurologist or a clinical geneticist, or both, if appropriate and particularly in the absence of a known perinatal cerebral insult, with brain MRI that is reported to be normal, a progression in, or new, signs or where there is a reported ‘family history of CP’. Finally, a few of the CP syndromes may be readily treatable and potentially prevent irreversible neurological and cognitive impairment.

  • neurodisability
  • neurology
  • neonatology

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  • Contributors REA conceived the idea of writing the review. REA and RG jointly prepared and wrote the article.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.