According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), staying healthy during pregnancy can help prevent developmental problems like cerebral palsy in infants and young children. To maintain a healthy pregnancy, the CDC recommends getting early and regular prenatal care, washing your hands often with soap and water to reduce the risk of infection, brushing your teeth at least twice and flossing once a day, getting vaccinated against the flu and contact a health care provider as soon as possible if you are sick.

Professionals at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development offer these additional recommendations:

• Start or continue to get at least 400 micrograms of folic acid by taking vitamin supplements every day. Most prenatal vitamins contain that much folic acid.

• Avoid drinking alcohol and smoking tobacco.

• Avoid exposure to toxic substances, such as radiation, pesticides, some metals, and certain chemicals. If you’re not sure if something could be harmful, avoid contact with it until you check with your health care provider.

• Follow a healthy diet. Choose a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products to ensure your developing fetus gets all the nutrients it needs.

• Maintain a safe diet. Avoid certain foods such as raw fish, undercooked meat, cold cuts, and unpasteurized cheeses such as certain types of feta and blue cheese.

• Limit caffeine intake. Talk to your health care provider about how much caffeine you get from coffee, tea, sodas, and chocolate. They may limit your intake to 200 milligrams (the amount in about a 12-ounce cup of coffee) per day.

Babies with cerebral palsy often have developmental delays and are slow to reach key developmental milestones. Mothers and fathers often worry about the development of their infant or toddler if the child has trouble learning to roll over, sit up, crawl, or walk. Symptoms and effects, which range from mild to severe, may also include mental impairment and/or slurred speech, drooling, growth problems, and/or growth retardation. Other indicators include attention span problems, unusual tension and irritability, vision and hearing difficulties, seizures, lethargy, muscle spasticity, using one side of the body more than the other, and poor feeding ability.

Risk factors for developing cerebral palsy may include low birth weight, preterm birth, multiple births, assisted reproductive technology, infections during pregnancy, jaundice and kernicterus, and medical conditions in the mother. Mothers with thyroid problems, intellectual disability, or seizures have a slightly higher risk of having a child with cerebral palsy.

Any trauma or damage done to the brain early in life can cause cerebral palsy. Some of the more common non-medical causes of the disorder include child abuse, closed head trauma, car accidents, and near drowning. In some cases, children develop cerebral palsy as a result of careless or negligent doctors.

If your child has developed cerebral palsy as a result of negligent or irresponsible medical care, it is prudent to contact a law firm that specializes in cerebral palsy cases. Caring for a child affected with cerebral palsy can place a heavy financial and emotional burden on your family. An agreement can be obtained, which can be of great help for medical treatment and rehabilitation.

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