There are multiple factors which may play a role in the development of cerebral palsy, a neurological movement disorder. This condition can be caused by injuries to the brain at birth or during embryonic development, gene mutations, a fetal stroke, maternal infections or infant infections, traumatic head injury, or – in rare cases – lack of oxygen to the brain during labor and delivery. There are a number of interventions which can help improve maternal health and reduce the risk of cerebral palsy. But do these work? How effective are potential interventions?
According to News Medical, a research team in Australia recently sought out to understand trends in birth prevalence of cerebral palsy within the country. The researchers sourced data from the Australian Cerebral Palsy Register from an approximate 19-year period. The researchers found that approximately 1.8 in every 1,000 infants from the early years had this disorder, while 1.2 in every 1,000 infants had this condition in the latter years. Researchers also discovered that the amount of cases were also reduced in neonatal infants of a younger age range (<28 weeks).
Ultimately, the researchers believe that the reduction in prevalence and commonality is a direct result of the varied interventions and attempts to ensure maternal health during fetal development.
Interested in reading the full study findings? You can check out the data from this study published in Development Medicine & Child Neurology.
What is Cerebral Palsy?
As described above, cerebral palsy is a neurological movement disorder resulting from damage to the brain either before birth or within the first 2 years following birth. This condition is variable; while some individuals are only mildly impacted, others experience moderate-to-severe symptoms. Altogether, this disorder is characterized by impaired coordination and a lack of muscle control. Symptoms can include:
- Muscle stiffness and rigidity OR muscle spasticity
- Too stiff or too loose muscle tone
- Developmental and intellectual delays
- Excessive drooling
- Favoring one side of the body over the other
- Difficulty walking, performing precise movements, swallowing, eating, or speaking
- Delayed speech development
- Vision or hearing difficulties
- Athetosis (slow, involuntary writhing movements)
- Urinary incontinence
- Abnormal pain perception