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Prognosis and Life Expectancy for Cerebral Palsy

In our last post, we talked about the Diagnosing Cerebral Palsy. Here, we will talk about the prognosis and life expectancy for a person with Cerebral Palsy. In this discussion, we will address the various factors that can affect prognosis and life expectancy and what to expect after a diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy.

This information has been compiled from government sources, medical sources, and from consulting with experts on Cerebral Palsy. 

Read on to learn more about prognosis and life expectancy for people with Cerebral Palsy.

Prognosis vs Life Expectancy

First, it helps to understand the differences and relation between prognosis and life expectancy.

Prognosis: means the expected course of a disease or disorder.

Life expectancy: means the average period of time that a person may be expected to live. 

Generally, a good prognosis will correlate with a standard life expectancy compared to the general population. A bad prognosis may correlate to a diminished life expectancy. 

However, while these words are used to describe what medical professionals expect will happen, a prognosis or a life expectancy is never certain. Whether the prognosis is bad or good, careful monitoring and a good treatment plan may help improve a person’s condition.

Prognosis for Cerebral Palsy

Because Cerebral Palsy is a condition that can affect a person in so many ways and because there can be related conditions, the prognosis for someone with CP can vary significantly. Any conversation about the prognosis of a child diagnosed with CP should include a lengthy discussion the factors and any relation conditions that determine the prognosis.

Medical professionals should answer questions and thoroughly explain a good or bad prognosis so that parents have an idea of what to expect. And, although cerebral palsy is a permanent and sometimes life threatening condition, the prognosis can change and improve over time. Early intervention and proper treatment are key to improving a child’s prognosis. 

The following approximations were gathered from many studies on the severity and prognosis of CP:

  • 50% of children with CP also have an intellectual disability from a related condition
  • 75% of children experience pain caused by CP
  • 33% cannot walk
  • 10% are blind
  • 4% are deaf
  • 33% have hip displacement issues
  • 25% cannot speak
  • 25% have seizures or epilepsy 
  • 25% have poor bladder control
  • 25% struggle with behavioral challenges
  • 6% have swallowing difficulties and require a feeding tube

Although these conditions are serious, and sometimes life threatening, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) note that early diagnosis and treatment of CP can significantly benefit the prognosis of a child with CP.

Furthermore, although permanent, Cerebral Palsy is not progressive. This is good news, because it means that CP does not get worse over time. As Doctors and scientists have learned more about how to treat CP, the prognosis for children with CP steadily improve. 

Life Expectancy with Cerebral Palsy

Thinking about a child’s life expectancy is very difficult. However, the good news is that in many cases of CP, a child can be expected to live a full life compared to the general population. 

In cases of moderate to severe CP or when there are other related conditions affecting the prognosis, the child’s life expectancy may be lower. Seizures, trouble eating or breathing, mobility limitations, intellectual impairment, and other factors can all affect a child’s life expectancy. 

However, careful monitoring and an effective treatment plan can help improve a poor life expectancy. To learn more, read our section on Treatment for Cerebral Palsy.

About Brown Trial Firm

Getting help for a child with cerebral palsy can make a big difference. Because early intervention is often key to helping improve a child’s wellbeing, it’s important to act swiftly.

At the Brown Trial Firm, our birth injury attorneys can help you investigate your case, find answers to your questions, and determine whether you are entitled to compensation. 

We offer case reviews at no cost or obligation. Many birth injuries that cause cerebral palsy could have been prevented. Don’t wait, get help today. Call us toll free at +1 (866) 223-7465 or email us a [email protected].


Paine, R. (1962). ON THE TREATMENT OF CEREBRAL PALSY: The Outcome of 177 Patients, 74 Totally Untreated. Pediatrics, 29(4), 605-616. Retrieved from https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/29/4/605

What is the prognosis of cerebral palsy?. (2019). Medscape.com. Retrieved 6 November 2019, from https://www.medscape.com/answers/1179555-119934/what-is-the-prognosis-of-cerebral-palsy

Cerebral Palsy. (2019). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved 6 November 2019, from https://www.cdc.gov/features/cerebral-palsy-11-things/index.html

Hutton, J. (2006). Life expectancy in severe cerebral palsy. Archives Of Disease In Childhood, 91(3), 254-258. doi:10.1136/adc.2005.075002

Hadders-Algra, M. (2014). Early Diagnosis and Early Intervention in Cerebral Palsy. Frontiers In Neurology, 5. doi:10.3389/fneur.2014.00185

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