How Common is Cerebral Palsy Today?

Cerebral palsy is the most common motor disability in children today.

Cerebral palsy is the most common motor disability in children today. Some people think this condition is much rarer today than it once was, but that is not true. To really understand just how commoncerebral palsy still is, it helps to know the difference between incidence and prevalence, two terms that are often used interchangeably but are somewhat different.

How Common is Cerebral Palsy?

Multiple studies have shown that cerebral palsy has not only been common for the past several decades, but also that it is still quite common today. Just a few of the stats have shown:

  • Approximately 764,000 adults and children have cerebral palsy
  • Approximately 500,000 of those affected by cerebral palsy are children
  • Approximately two to three children out of every 1,000 in the United States have cerebral palsy
  • Approximately 8,000 to 10,000 infants born every year in the U.S. will develop cerebral palsy

The statistics are alarming for all parents. To delve further into those stats and truly understand them, it is important to understand the difference between the terms prevalence and incidence.


The prevalence of any condition is usually expressed as a ratio. It represents the number of people within a specific geographical location, such as the United States, that live with cerebral palsy. Using the above stats, if there are 764,000 people living with cerebral palsy in the country, that number is then compared with the total population in the country. The prevalence of cerebral palsy then, is 2.3 to 3.6 people living with the condition for every 1,000 people in the country. Researchers use the prevalence of cerebral palsy to compare the rate in the United States with other countries, or to compare the rate of the condition from one year to another.


The incidence of cerebral palsy looks at how many children are affected by the condition over a certain period of time. The statistic stating that approximately 8,000 to 10,000 children are born every year with cerebral palsy is the incidence rate, not the prevalence.

Both incidence and prevalence rates are useful, although in different ways. Prevalence shows just how widespread the condition is, while incidence tells parents more about the risk of their child developing cerebral palsy. One of the most important things to remember about each statistic is they both remind parents that they are not alone. While the high prevalence and incidence of cerebral palsy may not seem like good news, it also means there are many resources available to parents that have a child suffering from the condition.

Clearly, cerebral palsy is still common in the United States. Although the disability is not always due to a doctor’s negligence, sometimes children do develop it as a result of negligence during the labor and delivery process. When that is the case, parents should speak to an experiencedOhio cerebral palsy lawyer, who can help with their case.

Related Posts