Children not walking by 18 months 'should be checked for cerebral palsy'
The advice comes from the UK's National Institute for Health and Care Excellence
Children who are not walking by the age of one and a half should be referred to specialist services to see whether they have cerebral palsy, health officials in the UK have suggested.
Youngsters who are not sitting by eight months also need to be referred to a local child development service, according to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice).
New information from Nice says: "Children with unusual signs that suggest possible cerebral palsy are referred to a specialist team at the local child development service for more checks to find out whether they have cerebral palsy.
"Examples of unusual signs are not sitting by eight months, not walking by 18 months, or using one hand more than the other before 12 months."
NHS Choices suggests that children should be able to sit without support from the age of six months to eight months.
Between 10 months and 18 months they should be able to start walking alone.
The new quality standard from Nice also calls for better monitoring of some babies.
It said children with any major risk factor for cerebral palsy should be given enhanced clinical and developmental follow-up from birth until they are aged two.
This includes extremely premature babies - those born before 28 weeks - babies born with a low birth weight or newborns who contract an infection shortly after birth.
Officials said that the signs of cerebral palsy might not be apparent at birth and following ups for two years will help to identify cases "as early as possible".
Cerebral palsy is the name of a group of life-long conditions. It mainly affects how the brain controls muscles and movement.
Symptoms vary in severity and can include: delays in reaching development milestones, seeming too stiff or too floppy, weak arms or legs or random, uncontrolled movements.
Other signs are walking on tip-toes and a range of other problems such as swallowing difficulties, speaking problems, vision problems and learning disabilities.
It is estimated around one in 400 babies born in the UK has cerebral palsy.
Around 1,800 children are diagnosed each year.
Action Cerebral Palsy welcomed the quality standard.
A spokesman said: "It's essential this leads to improved follow-up for children with major risk factors for cerebral palsy; prompt referral for children with delayed motor milestones; better information for parents and carers of children and young people with cerebral palsy; and personal folders tracking the development of these children.
"This will enable parents and health practitioners to intervene at the earliest stage, with the confidence that they are receiving the best care for their child."