Q. Does delayed speech development mean cerebral palsy?

Answered by
Dr. Veerabhadrudu Kuncham
and medically reviewed by Dr. Divya Banu M
This is a premium question & answer published on Feb 27, 2019

Hello doctor,

My daughter is 18 months of age. She was born at 38 weeks due to placenta failure and oxygen issues. She was 5 lbs 10 ounces at birth and was healthy (did not have to stay in the NICU). She hit all of her milestones in terms of rolling over, crawling and walking (walked at 14.5 months), but is a toe walker. Her left leg (to us) is weaker than her right and her left leg does not bend as much as her right leg.

She began to speak around 10 months of age then her speech left. We came to find out she had chronic fluid and a month back she had tubes placed. I am hearing more vowel and consonants now but no true words yet. She makes fine eye contact. Her non-verbal communication is good. She responds to her name but not always. She is beginning to learn more of what we are saying, she plays with some toys, is not terribly social. We are thinking that she may be on the autism spectrum and we have an evaluation soon to determine that. But my question is, could this be cerebral palsy?



Welcome to

I understand the situation you are facing with your child. As there is no history of perinatal insult and NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) stay at birth, cerebral palsy could be less likely at this early age to diagnose. The description you made is more of a like to be an autistic spectrum disorder. But this could be just a small delay in catching up all milestones. Some kids learn early and some little late. So, observe over a period and if no improvement is seen, then consult a pediatric neurologist and developmental specialist for further evaluation and management.

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