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Dev Med Child Neurol. 2014 Apr;56(4):323-8. doi: 10.1111/dmcn.12262. Epub 2013 Sep 20.

What constitutes cerebral palsy in the twenty-first century?

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Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Institute, Sydney, NSW, Australia; Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia; School of Medicine, University of Notre Dame, Sydney, NSW, Australia.



Determining inclusion/exclusion criteria for cerebral palsy (CP) surveillance is challenging. The aims of this paper were to (1) define inclusion/exclusion criteria that have been adopted uniformly by surveillance programmes and identify where consensus is still elusive, and (2) provide an updated list of the consensus concerning CP inclusion/exclusion when a syndrome/disorder is diagnosed.


Data were drawn from an international survey of CP registers, the New South Wales CP Register (1993-2003), the Western Australian CP Register (1975-2008), and the Surveillance of CP in Europe (SCPE; 1976-1998). An expert panel used a consensus building technique, which utilized the SCPE 'decision tree' and the original 'What constitutes cerebral palsy?' paper as frameworks.


CP surveillance programmes agree on key clinical criteria pertaining to the type, severity, and origin of motor disorder in CP. Further work is warranted to reach agreement for (1) minimum age of survival and maximum age of postneonatal brain injury, and (2) metabolic disorders with highly variable clinical courses/responses to treatment. One hundred and ninety-seven syndromes/disorders were reviewed and advice on their inclusion/exclusion is provided.


What constitutes CP will continue to evolve as diagnostics improve. Surveillance programmes throughout the world are committed to addressing their differences regarding inclusion/exclusion criteria for the umbrella term CP.

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