Many adults with CP, as well as doctors and lawyers, believe that a major cause of CP occurs when oxygen flowing to a baby’s brain during birth is interrupted. But a new study show that the lack of oxygen accounts for only about 10% of all cases of CP. More important causes are infections developed by the mother during pregnancy, as well blood disorders and clotting which damage the infant’s brain.

Judi Rogers, a mother with CP won the nation’s highest honor for community health leadership: the 2002 Robert Wood Johnson Community Health Leadership Program award. Rogers is a staff member at Through the Looking Glass, a Berkeley nonprofit organization focusing on families in which an infant, child or parent has a disability.

Any authentic discussion of health issues affecting women with disabilities will reveal two leitmotivs that surface repeatedly to link seemingly disparate topics. One theme is invisibility. Women with disabilities have been working hard to emerge from decades of neglect in medical services and research, including programs expressly designed to encompass the diversity of all women’s health needs. The second theme is genderlessness.

When Earl Carlson was a child, his father threatened to beat him because of his cerebral palsy. In his autobiography Born That Way, Earl noted that CP affected the muscles in his face that control smiling. As a result, he had “a tendency to grin all the time, quite regardless of whether I felt happy or sad.”