Hesperian Health Guides


Every day 20,000 people visit the HealthWiki for lifesaving health information. A gift of just $5 helps make this possible!

Make a giftMake a gift to support this essential health information people depend on.

HealthWiki > Disabled Village Children > Chapter 9: Cerebral Palsy > Prevention

With these precautions, children will be less likely to have cerebral palsy:

  • Good nutrition of the mother, both before and during pregnancy, reduces the chance of premature birth—and of cerebral palsy.
  • If possible, girls should avoid pregnancy until full grown (16 or 17 years old).
  • Avoid unnecessary medicines during pregnancy.
  • Try to avoid getting near persons with German measles during pregnancy. Or get vaccinated against German measles before becoming pregnant.
  • Go for regular health check-ups during pregnancy (prenatal care). If there are any signs that giving birth may be difficult, try to arrange for a skilled midwife or doctor to attend the birth—if possible, in a hospital. (See the list of “Signs of Special Risk," Where There Is No Doctor, p. 256.)
  • During labor, do not let the midwife or doctor try to speed things up by:
pushing forcefully against the womb,
or by using injections or hormones (oxytocin, pituitrin, etc.) before the child is born.
DVC Ch9 Page 107-1.png
DVC Ch9 Page 107-2.png
  • Be familiar with, and be sure your midwife is familiar with, all the precautions and emergency measures of childbirth. Learn what to do if the baby is born blue and limp and does not breathe right away, or has the cord wrapped around the neck. Plan for emergency transport to the nearest clinic or hospital. (See Where Women Have No Doctor.)
  • Breast feed the baby (breast milk helps prevent and fight infection), and make sure the baby gets enough to eat. (See Where There Is No Doctor, p. 121 and 271.)
  • Vaccinate the baby (especially for measles).
  • When the baby has a fever,
uncover him completely. Never wrap the baby up in clothing or blankets.
DVC Ch9 Page 108-1.png
DVC Ch9 Page 108-2.png
If the fever is high, wet the child and fan him until he is cooler. This can make the fever worse and cause seizures or permanent brain damage.

Be sure the child with fever drinks a lot of liquids, and follow the other instructions on pages 75 to 76 of Where There Is No Doctor.

  • Know the signs of meningitis and get (or begin) treatment quickly.
a baby with a bulge on his head
signs of meningitis
Soft spot bulges up (babies under 1 year),
drowsy, sleepy, seizures or jerks
sometimes vomiting
stiff neck
back bent back, knees forward
worse and worse until child loses consciousness
  • When your baby has diarrhea, prepare Rehydration Drink and give it to him every few minutes to prevent or correct dehydration. See Where There Is No Doctor, p. 151 to 161.

Preventing dehydration helps prevent seizures and brain damage (cerebral palsy).

DVC Ch9 Page 108-5.png
In 1 liter of WATER (better if boiled, but do not lose time)
2 level tablespoons of SUGAR or honey
¼ teaspoon SALT
¼ teaspoon BAKING SODA (bicarbonate of soda).
If you do not have soda, use another ¼ teaspoon salt.
If available, add half a cup of orange juice or coconut water or a little mashed ripe banana to the drink.
CAUTION! Before giving the Drink taste it and be sure it is no more salty than tears.


Cerebral palsy is a complex disability that involves many problems and needs. Therefore much of the basic information you will need is in other chapters. It is essential that you read Chapters 4, 8, 33 to 43, and 62 to 66.

This page was updated:21 Nov 2019