Cerebral palsy and fetal inflammatory response syndrome: A review Academic Article uri icon


  • Cerebral palsy (CP) is the most common cause of severe physical disability in childhood. The precise etiological factor for the development of the majority of cases of CP has not been identified, however, prematurity is considered to be the leading identifiable risk factor. During the last decade, intrauterine infection/inflammation has been identified as the most common cause of preterm delivery and neonatal complications. When microorganisms or their products gain access to the fetus they stimulate the production of cytokines and a systemic response termed FIRS (Fetal Inflammatory Response Syndrome). Subsequently, FIRS was implicated as a cause of fetal or neonatal injury that leads to CP and chronic lung disease. Several authors found an increase in the risk for CP in infants born to mothers with clinical chorioamnionitis, especially in preterm neonates. A relationship between CP and intra-amniotic inflammation was demonstrated, intrauterine infection may lead to activation of the cytokine network which in turn can cause white matter brain damage and preterm delivery, as well as the future development of CP. This white matter insult is identified clinically as periventricular leucomalacia (PVL) which is associated with the subsequent development of impaired neurological outcomes of variable severity including CP.

publication date

  • January 1, 2006