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Cerebral palsy is the most common type of childhood disability, affecting around 500,000 people under the age of 18. Yet, the prevalence of cerebral palsy is quite different than the incidence rate, and understanding the difference between the two can also help you understand more about the disorder.
What is Cerebral Palsy Prevalence?
Cerebral palsy prevalence is a term that defines the total number of people living with cerebral palsy in a certain time frame. For instance, the number of people living in the United States with the disorder would be the prevalence of cerebral palsy.
What is Cerebral Palsy Incidence?
On the other hand, cerebral palsy incidence is a term that defines the number of newly diagnosed people living with the disorder during a certain time frame. For example, the incidence of cerebral palsy should answer how often the disorder occurs.
For example, the U.S. National Institute of Health reports that “as many as 8,000 to 12,000 children born in the U.S. each year” develop cerebral palsy. 
Incidence can also break down the number of people with cerebral palsy by each particular year. For instance, In November 2009, there were close to 20,000 people diagnosed with cerebral palsy.
The Purpose of Cerebral Palsy Prevalence and Incidence
Cerebral palsy prevalence and incidence help scientists, physicians, and government organizations analyze and study the disorder from country to country, state to state, and within different communities.
This allows professionals to work towards understanding where more healthcare resources may be needed and which areas need improvement on their current healthcare resources. It also allows government organizations to discern where to allocate more funds for cerebral palsy treatment.
How Prevalence and Incidence Are Calculated
Numerous organizations, including both government and non-government, either carry out or sponsor studies on the incidence and/or prevalence of cerebral palsy.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is a government organization that collects data and information for numerous diseases and illnesses, including cerebral palsy. As a part of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, CDC conducts and shares in-depth studies on both the prevalence and incidence of cerebral palsy in the U.S. 
Another government organization, the Department of Health and Human Resources (HHR), has a number of different divisions that carry out studies on the incidence and prevalence of cerebral palsy, including:
- Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD)
- National Institutes of Health (NIH)
- National Institute of Neurological Disorders (NINDS)
Non-government agencies that help research and assist in finding treatment options and funding for cerebral palsy include:
- The March of Dimes
- The United Cerebral Palsy Association (UCPA)
- Easter Seals
- The Cerebral Palsy International Research Foundation
International Agencies also help collect data, including the incidence and prevalence of cerebral palsy, for individuals worldwide. The most prominent organizations include:
- The Surveillance of Cerebral Palsy in Europe (SCPE)
- World Health Organization (WHO)
Cerebral Palsy Prevalence and Incidence Facts
According to cerebral palsy incidence and prevalence studies recently conducted, the following are the most current statistics:
- Around 2 or 3 children for every 1,000 babies born develop cerebral palsy 
- Around 764,000 people currently live with cerebral palsy, with 500,000 of those being children and teens
- Each year, 8,000 to 10,000 infants are diagnosed with cerebral palsy
- 1,200 to 1,500 pre-school aged children are diagnosed with cerebral palsy each year
- Spastic cerebral palsy remains the most common type of the disorder, affecting close to 61% of all people with cerebral palsy
- Schendel DE , et al. (n.d.). Public health issues related to infection in pregnancy and cerebral palsy. - PubMed - NCBI. National Center for Biotechnology Information.
Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11921385
- Tracking and Research on Cerebral Palsy. (2019, October 7). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/cp/research.html
- Data and Statistics for Cerebral Palsy. (2019, October 31). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/cp/data.html