Cerebral palsy, then known as "Cerebral Paralysis", was first identified by a British surgeon named William Little in 1860. Little raised the possibility of asphyxia during birth as a chief cause of the disorder. It was not until 1897 that Sigmund Freud suggested that a difficult birth was not the cause but rather only a symptom of other effects on fetal development. Modern research has shown that asphyxia is not found during birth in at least 75% of cases. Such research also shows that Freud's view was correct, even though during the late 19th century and most of the 20th century Little's view was the traditional explanation.

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