Life expectancy for a child with cerebral palsy

Life expectancy for a child with cerebral palsy

Once you get the diagnosis of your child, a whirlwind of questions can take over your days and nights. It’s not something easy, and it’s definitely something that you would never like to hear. However, we’re here to provide a space for support, inspiration, and useful information on various levels of cerebral palsy. And most of all, we’re here to let you know that your child’s going to be okay, even if they got their diagnosis early or later on. 

Cerebral palsy life expectancy

Generally speaking, our expected life span depends on a variety of factors. Some of these include hereditary conditions, exercise, diet, disposition, environment, sleep and health care.

The fact that your child has cerebral palsy doesn’t mean that their life expectancy decreases. So you shouldn’t focus your attention and time on thinking about this, and instead focus on the positives. What’s more, the majority of children with cerebral palsy will live long lives with the right treatment and care.

The good thing is that cerebral palsy is a condition that doesn’t worsen in time; however, the conditions associated with it may be more present in your child’s life. For example, seizures, spasticity, hearing and vision, spine and joint issues as well as oral motor problems and respiratory problems might be something you’re investigating.

Life expectancy for a child with cerebral palsy

Nevertheless, it depends a lot on the severity of their condition, and what sort of therapy, care and treatments your child needs according to their individual case. Therefore, being careful of your child’s needs can help greatly in their overall wellbeing. And generally speaking, a positive outlook on life and a healthy, happy environment contribute a lot to that.

Children with cerebral palsy: are they at higher risk of a shorter lifespan?

Whereas a child with cerebral palsy needs more care and attention than a child with no disability, there is a lot to take into account including other associated conditions. However, with the right care and the right environment your child can have a high-quality life.

We understand your worry given that you’re doing your best to find out everything you can about this disease. And that’s why we are here, to offer useful information and ressources. However, we want to encourage you to take things slow, step by step. Talking to a medical doctor, therapist, and seeking professional advice are very useful in your journey, especially in the beginning. Keeping in mind that your child has opportunities to develop well. According to their individual case, they have a lot of room to flourish and grow into a happy individual.

As mentioned previously, we also want to give out some useful information. So we thought to start out with the fact that cerebral palsy is categorized into GMFCS levels. That means levels of mildness or severity to their condition, that can tell you a bit more in depth about their current health state. Here you can find a good representation of all the GMFCS levels. These help doctors establish their treatment, taking into consideration their symptoms at this stage. 

Life expectancy for a child with cerebral palsy

What do studies say: survival rate of children with cerebral palsy

We know your focus is on getting better, getting the right treatment for your child and inspiring them everyday. When we are talking about survival rates of children with cerebral palsy, we should stay focused on the positive.

Some papers and studies do stress the importance of the severity of the case for a longer life expectancy. For example,a study done by the BMC entitled Survival and mortality in cerebral palsy, takes into discussion the issues that can affect this.

The study was performed on people born in Western Australia between 1956–2011,and surviving at least 12 months. It was shown that mortality increased with increasing severity of impairment“

Of 349 (75%) with available cause of death data, 58.6% were attributed to respiratory causes, including 171 (49%) to pneumonia at a mean age of 14.6 (sd 13.4) years of which 77 (45%) were attributed to aspiration”.

Conclusion of the BMC Study

The overall conclusion of the study was that 22% of the subjects with cerebral palsy with mild impairment had an average life expectancy of 58 years. This is similar to the general population. Also, since 1990 mortality for those with severe cerebral palsy in Western Australia has tended to shift from childhood to early adulthood.

Life expectancy for a child with cerebral palsy

Another study has tried to group life expectancy by age, location, several symptoms, such as feeding ability, walking ability and so on. However, this is a more indepth look into the 1998 paper by Strauss and Shavelle. It deals with the life expectancy of adults with cerebral palsy (CP) and the 2007 study by Strauss et al. Some of the information here can be overwhelming. But the conclusion of the study is that there is more data available now and that life expectancy has gone up in recent years.

All in all, it’s important that you and your child have good access to information and together with professionals seek out the best possible journey. It’s also important to remember that children with cerebral palsy can live long fulfilling lives. You can also check our Blog section for more information.

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Olivia Dejeu
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