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September 1955

Cerebral Palsy: Where Next?

Author Affiliations

New Haven, Conn.

AMA Arch NeurPsych. 1955;74(3):267-279. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1955.02330150033005

Nearly a century has elapsed since Little's description of the crippling condition which has since come to be known as cerebral palsy. Little, an orthopedist venturing on obstetrical ground, considered that the disease was usually due to asphyxia associated with dystocia and prematurity.* Sigmund Freud categorized these as "Little's factors" in etiology and cast serious doubt on their validity.3 The divergent views have yet to be resolved. Constructive contributions to the problems of etiology are urgently needed; according to Children's Bureau figures,4 cerebral palsy accounts for more than 9% of our crippled children.

HISTORICAL NOTE  Past disputes over etiology have been repeatedly reviewed † and need not be examined here. Prenatal influence ‡ figures prominently in current expositions of etiology, § partly because of recent studies relating defects of embryonic development to vitamin deficiency9 and irradiation10 during pregnancy. Experimentally produced fetal defects,11 defects following maternal