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Cerebral palsy often not diagnosed until more than a year after birth

Diagnosing cerebral palsy as early in life as possible has many possible benefits.  Those benefits can include possible prevention of secondary disabilities, and reducing the frustration levels of the parents and the undiagnosed child alike.  Your child's doctor can perform tests to screen your child for developmental delays or disabilities including cerebral palsy.

The mean age for diagnosis of cerebral palsy is at 14 months of age.  Earlier diagnosis and intervention may be possible if the parents and the doctor know the four major categories of development to watch for:   motor skills, language, problem-solving and psychosocial.  Parents should be aware of all four categories in their child rather than focusing only on growth or motor development.  For example, language developmenet begins at birth.  Any questions should be raised with the doctor. 

The doctor should perform screening tests whenever appropriate.  Many of the screening tests will use one single test to screen for possible problems in all four developmental areas.  Some of the tests that are available are the Revised Denver Developmental Questionnaire, Ages and Stages Questionnaire, Bayley Infant Neurodevelopmental Screen, Brigance Screens, Child Development Inventories, Parents' Evaluations of Developmental Status, and the Bright Futures Project.