Risk factors are hazardous events that increase the chances that damage to a child's central nervous system will occur. They can be prenatal (before birth), perinatal (during delivery) or postnatal (immediately after birth). Some of the factors are as follows:

- premature birth
- multiple births (twins, triplets, quadruplets)
- large baby at birth
- caesarean section due to complications during pregnancy
- breech presentation
- maternal illness during pregnancy
- complications during pregnancy
- intrauterine growth retardation
- infections
- high bilirubin levels 
- and many others.

Children whose medical histories include one or more risk factors are classified as high-risk children.

It is important to know that just because a child's medical history includes one or more risk factors does not necessarily mean that he has actually sustained damage to his central nervous system. It only means that he belongs to a group of children in whom such damage occurs more often, but from the aspect of a particular child, it does not mean that any damage has actually occurred.

The opposite can also be true. Children who have no risk factors can also sustain damage to their central nervous systems; however, this happens less often.