Child Skipping Developmental Milestones

What are developmental milestones that babies and children with cerebral palsy skip?

Children that suffer from cerebral palsy and other medical disorders sometimes skip certain developmental milestones. Some of these milestones include rolling over as an infant, sitting up as an infant, crawling or walking, talking, potty training as a toddler, dressing as a toddler, or independent feeding.

In fact, the aforementioned milestones are things that physical and occupational therapists focus on teaching so that infants and children can go on to experience a richer and more independent life. Sometimes they struggle with these milestones because they have an intellectual disability as a facet of cerebral palsy, and sometimes the nature of the cerebral palsy has limited their muscle movement and they don’t have control enough over their muscles to perform these tasks.

Are growth problems considered a skipped developmental milestone?

Some physicians consider growth problems as part of disabilities associated with skipping developmental milestones. After all, sometimes infants develop disorders and disabilities due to low weight associated with the disease (problems such as spasticity in the digestive tract preventing natural digestion, problems with spastic movements,, and trouble swallowing or eating based on oral muscular disabilities). Because the growth problems are in direct relation to disabilities, growth problems are sometimes considered a skipped developmental milestones.

Why is cerebral palsy related to skipping developmental milestones?

Sometimes oxygen deprivation causes brain damage from anoxia, hypoxia, Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE), birth asphyxia, or perinatal asphyxia. These various forms of oxygen deprivation can cause a brain hemorrhage, brain ischemia, cerebral palsy, or general brain damage.

Cerebral palsy is a disorder that has been linked to oxygen deprivation, but it differs from other brain injuries due to different responses from the brain.

For example, in a brain hemorrhage, the response from the brain is to flood it with more blood and kill more brain cells. The response from the brain in brain ischemia is to deprive the brain of blood, thus suffocating the brain cells. In cerebral palsy, the brain’s response is an electrical response that often results in intellectual disability, but may also result in the abnormal elimination of natural neural pathways that would connect messages from the brain to muscle groups. This is how children with cerebral palsy skip developmental milestones: the neural pathways that naturally communicate these messages are disrupted, sometimes for that child’s lifetime.