October 8, 2006JAMA article pinpoints risk factors for cerebral palsy

Researchers have identified several prenatal and delivery risk factors for cerebral palsy.  Their study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, looks at findings from MRI scans of children with the disease. Doctors say the new data may help in treating the symptoms of cerebral palsy.

The researchers determined that almost 40% of mothers had some type of infection during pregnancy. Roughly 12% of the children were born from a multiple pregnancy, five times the rate of the general population. About 11% were born prematurely. Any of these factors, doctors say, could raise the risk of a child being born with cerebral palsy.

The MRI scans proved very informative. Researchers found that more than 40% showed brain areas that were not fully developed. The study’s authors concluded: “This may be useful in helping parents, clinicians and others involved in the care of children with cerebral palsy to understand the nature of the children’s condition and to predict their needs in the future.”

After having analyzed the risk factors for cerebral palsy symptoms and the sort of brain damage it may cause, the researchers can only hope that this added knowledge of the symptoms of cerebral palsy will result in fewer children being born with the disease. They added, “We think it is not unreasonable to assume that with increased awareness of possible preventive measures, over the next decade the rate of CP could be reduced substantially.”

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