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Is Cerebral Palsy Inherited? How Genes Affect Chances of CP

is cerebral palsy inherited from parents

Is cerebral palsy inherited? What are the odds of having another child with cerebral palsy?

To help you better understand the link between genetics and cerebral palsy, this article will explain:

  • the most common causes of CP
  • the role genetics plays in CP
  • the chances of having multiple children with CP

Let’s get started!

Is Cerebral Palsy Inherited?

Long story short, cerebral palsy is not inherited.

Cerebral palsy describes a range of various motor disabilities that result from damage to the brain before, during, or shortly after birth.

There is no single gene that specifically causes cerebral palsy.

However, it is suspected that a combination of multiple genes can increase the chances of having cerebral palsy.

Random mutations in the genes that affect brain development may also increase the risk of developing cerebral palsy.

Common Causes of Cerebral Palsy

is cerebral palsy inherited or not

If there isn’t a specific gene for cerebral palsy, what causes it?

Common causes of cerebral palsy include:

  • Premature birth
  • Bleeding in the brain
  • Brain infections
  • Seizures
  • Lack of oxygen in the brain
  • Abnormal brain development
  • Head injury very early in life

Generally, any sort of early damage to the motor cortex, cerebellum, or basal ganglia of the brain can cause cerebral palsy.

Acquired vs. Congenital Cerebral Palsy

genetics and cerebral palsy


Cerebral palsy can be acquired or congenital.

The key to understanding the difference between acquired and congenital CP is in identifying the cause of brain damage.

Acquired cerebral palsy is when cerebral palsy is developed due to damage to the brain after birth.

It’s caused by environmental factors and has nothing to do with a person’s genes.

Causes of acquired cerebral palsy include infections, cerebrovascular accidents, and head injuries.

In contrast, congenital cerebral palsy is when damage to the brain occurs during pregnancy or at birth.

Many times, congenital cerebral palsy is not diagnosed right away.

Mild forms of congenital cerebral palsy may not be evident until the child starts to get a little older and demonstrates developmental delays.

Cerebral Palsy in Multiple Births

is cerebral palsy inherited and are chances increased in twins


Twins have a higher risk of cerebral palsy than single born babies.

This may be in part due to the fact that premature births (one of the major causes of cerebral palsy) are more common in twins.

It could also be due to the increasing prevalence of low birth weights in multiple birth pregnancies.

Even more so, triplets and quadruplets have even higher risks for being born with cerebral palsy.

Death or cerebral palsy in one twin significantly increases the risk of cerebral palsy in the other twin.

However, genetic influences on cerebral palsy are very minimal.

To put all this information into perspective, ~90% of the time, only one twin will have cerebral palsy.

Can Cerebral Palsy Be Passed Down?

is cp inherited


Most individuals with cerebral palsy have perfectly healthy children that don’t have cerebral palsy.

It’s not so much that there are genes that specifically cause cerebral palsy, but rather that there are genes can that increase one’s likelihood for variations in brain development.

While there is some research to suggest that genes play a greater role in cerebral palsy, it is still in its early stages and needs to be further understood.

That’s a wrap! Hopefully, this article helped you better understand how genetics can affect cerebral palsy.

Featured image: ©

Keep It Going: See Fun Ways to Recover from Cerebral Palsy

Finally! There’s a recovery device for CP that’s actually fun to use. See how Flint Rehab’s tools are helping with CP recovery:

“The FitMi and MusicGlove have done wonders for my son with hemiparesis from cerebral palsy and stroke. It motivates him to do his exercises. It does not seem like therapy for him since it is fun. It monitors his progress so it is a great reinforcement for him. Music is a motivator for him. He has been using it on his arm and we will try the leg exercises soon.”

FitMi works by motivating high repetition of therapeutic exercises while playing an engaging game. This gamification has been particularly great for motivating individuals with cerebral palsy to recover.

To see how FitMi works, click here »