Does Cerebral Palsy Shorten a Person’s Life Span? How?

In this post you will learn about how Cerebral Palsy affects a child’s life expectancy and quality of life.

This information has been collected from reliable government and medical sources, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Health Service, and from Medical Professionals.

Let’s dive in to learn more.

Map of Life Expectancy in the US
How Cerebral Palsy Affects a Person’s Life Expectancy and Quality of Life:

The life expectancy of a child with cerebral palsy depends on a number of factors. There is no set definite life expectancy for a child with cerebral palsy. However, a child with mild to moderate CP is generally expected to live a full life span as compared to the general population. Of course child is unique, and factors such as other medical conditions, treatment, and care may influence the expected life span of the child.

Early intervention and treatment may improve the life expectancy of the child, so it is important to take action as soon as possible. Even if your child has not been officially diagnosed with CP yet, if you suspect that your child has CP, it’s worth investigating your options. 

Is Cerebral Palsy a Fatal Condition?

On its own, cerebral palsy is not a life threatening condition. Fortunately, CP is considered a non-progressive neurological disorder, which means that it will not get worse with time. And, although permanent, there are many ways to help improve the quality of life of people with cerebral palsy.

When other medical complications are present in addition to cerebral palsy, the child’s life expectancy may be reduced. The most significant factor is the severity of the child’s motor and intellectual impairment. 

What Factors Affect the Life Expectancy of Someone with Cerebral Palsy?

In addition to motor and intellectual impairment, there are a number of other factors that may contribute to the child’s overall quality of life and life expectancy. Children with CP face a number of risk factors, including:

Mobility Factors

Depending on the type of CP the child has, the child’s mobility may be limited. The common types of cerebral palsy are:

  • Spastic
  • Athetoid
  • Ataxic
  • Mixed

Spastic CP is the most common type of CP. This type of CP results in problems with reflexes, stiffness, tight muscles or joints, and difficulty walking. 

In cases of Athetoid CP or non-spastic CP, the person may have a stiff or rigid body, floppy limbs, difficulty standing up straight, and even trouble with eating. 

In Ataxic CP, the child may have difficulty with balance and coordination. Ataxic CP may include trouble speaking, visual impairments, shakiness and tremors, and feet that spread apart while walking.

In cases of Mixed CP, the child’s CP is due to multiple brain injuries. The resulting impairments will vary depending on what areas of the brain have been injured.

Mobility is a crucial ability for a child’s development and an indicator of a child’s future capacity for independence. The more a child’s mobility or motor skills are impaired, the more difficult it will be for a child to participate in normal life activities. A child with moderate to severe motor impairment may require special accommodations and life-long care. 

Intellectual Factors

Children who suffer intellectual impairment in addition to CP may also have a reduced life expectancy. Common signs of cognitive impairment due to brain damage may include language difficulties. Depending on the part of the brain that is injured, the cognitive impairments will vary. 

If a person is unable to communicate effectively, it is challenging to communicate needs, emotions, and desires. Occupational therapy can be an effective treatment to help children overcome their cognitive impairments and learn to communicate. 

Sensory Factors

Some people with CP also suffer from visual or hearing impairments. If a child is blind or deaf, then they may require special education and accommodations. In addition to the child, the child’s family may also need to acquire new skills for communicating and assisting the child.

Independence Factors

Sometimes people with CP have difficulty with swallowing and eating. Nutrition is important for a child’s developing brain and body, and a lack of nutrition can lead to other medical complications. If a child has difficulty swallowing, then they may be at risk for dehydration and malnourishment. Left untreated, these risks can be life threatening.

Musculoskeletal Factors

Musculoskeletal disorders can include hip dysplasia, scoliosis, cervical stenosis, and patella alta. These complications can affect a person’s ability to move. Additionally, they may complicate a person’s treatment plan and may ultimately reduce a child’s life expectancy if left untreated.

Respiratory Factors

Lung conditions like bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) can occur in babies with CP who are born prematurely. Gastro reflux and chronic aspiration of food and saliva can interfere with the lungs, causing the child to have difficulty breathing. These conditions can be life threatening if left untreated. 

Epilepsy Factors

Up to half of children with CP tend to suffer from seizures. A seizure occurs when a wave of electrical activity overwhelms the brain, causing the child to tense up and lose motor control. Seizures can also be highly unpredictable, which adds an additional risk factor for the child’s safety and wellbeing. 

How to Improve the Quality of Life and Increase the Lifespan of Someone with Cerebral Palsy.

One of the best ways to improve a child’s life expectancy is with proper treatment and medical care. Early intervention is shown to have a significant impact on helping the child overcome CP and the common complications that can accompany CP. 

Children with cerebral palsy who have a specialized treatment plan can be expected to have a better quality of life and life expectancy.

How Can Treatment Improve the Life Expectancy of Someone with Cerebral Palsy?

A well tailored treatment plan can help with many aspects of a child and an adult’s life. Some of the ways that treatment can help are:

  • Improving the person’s mobility and coordination
  • Increasing the person’s independence in daily self-care and maintenance, including activities like dressing, washing, and eating
  • Learning how to manage pain
  • Acquiring good coping systems for emotional stress
  • Improving communication skills and social interactions
  • Learning how to manage seizures
  • Gaining access to community, legal, and government support programs

How Can a Birth Injury Attorney Help?

Contact a Cerebral Palsy and Birth Injury Attorney

Getting help for a child with CP can make a big difference. With any serious medical condition, it’s important to develop a plan that fits that child’s condition.

If your child’s CP was caused by a preventable medical error, then our attorneys at Brown Trial Firm may be able to help. We can help guide you through the process of discovering if your child’s injuries were preventable. If the injuries were preventable, then we can help you file a lawsuit to hold the medical professionals accountable for their mistakes.

Case Review at No Cost or Obligation

If you would like help investigating your child’s cerebral palsy, please contact us. Our birth injury attorneys will be happy to give you a free case evaluation. We can also point you to great non-legal resources that can help you figure out your next steps.

Many birth injuries that cause cerebral palsy could have been prevented. Don’t wait, get help today. Call +1 (844) 232-9228 or email us a [email protected].


1. Data and Statistics for Cerebral Palsy | CDC. (2018). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved 22 October 2019, from

2. Cerebral palsy . (2017). Retrieved 22 October 2019, from

3. Tidy, D. (2017). Cerebral Palsy. What is cerebral palsy? Information. . Retrieved 22 October 2019, from

4. Map of US congressional districts by life expectancy.jpg. (2019). Retrieved 22 October 2019, from

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