Cerebral Palsy Differential Diagnoses

Updated: Aug 22, 2018
  • Author: Hoda Z Abdel-Hamid, MD; Chief Editor: Amy Kao, MD  more...
  • Print

Diagnostic Considerations

The diagnosis of cerebral palsy is generally made based on the clinical picture; however, some authors propose that the diagnosis should be deferred until the child is age 2 years or older. As the brain continues to develop postnatally, abnormalities of motor tone or movement in the first several weeks or months after birth may gradually improve over the first year of life (or even later). The Collaborative Perinatal Project found that almost 50% of individuals diagnosed with cerebral palsy and 66% of children diagnosed with spastic diplegia outgrew findings that were suggestive of cerebral palsy by age 7 years. Others did not manifest full motor signs suggestive of this disorder until aged 1-2 years.

Other conditions that should be considered when evaluating a patient with suspected cerebral palsy include metabolic and genetic diseases, hereditary spastic paraplegias, Rett syndrome, and tethered spinal cord.

Differential Diagnoses