Researchers say they've
pinpointed risk factors that contribute to cerebral palsy and early infant
The US and Australian
researchers compared the medical records of children with cerebral palsy and
infants who died within one month of birth with the records of healthy children
to determine how often four risk factors occurred in each group.
The risk factors included asphyxia birth events – incidents during labour and delivery that had the
potential to interfere with oxygen getting to the newborn's brain. The other
risk factors were inflammation (signs of infection), birth defects and poor foetal
growth, which was defined as low birth weight plus some other factors related
to expected size.
Birth defects and poor foetal
growth were the most common risk factors among the cases of cerebral palsy and
early infant death, said Dr Karin Nelson, scientist emeritus at the US
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and colleagues.
They also found that only
birth defects or poor foetal growth predicted two types of movement problems
associated with cerebral palsy: dyskinesia (uncontrollable writhing or jerky
movements) and spastic quadriplegia (severe stiffness in the limbs).
The study was published
on 9 September in the journal Obstetrics & Gynaecology.
The study tied certain
factors to higher risk of cerebral palsy or infant death, but it didn't
establish cause-and-effect relationships.
Many previous studies
examining the causes of cerebral palsy have focused on asphyxia birth events,
according to an NINDS news release. But the authors of the new study said their
findings indicate that poor foetal growth and birth defects may be major
factors in cerebral palsy and early infant death, which suggests that
researchers should focus more on those specific risk factors.
The March of Dimes has more
about cerebral palsy.