Cerebral palsy rates falling in Australia
One of the things parents fear is that their baby might be born with cerebral palsy. That’s brain damage usually in pregnancy for various causes including prematurity, maternal infection, serious newborn illness, birth trauma and unknown causes. The result can be a child with movement and developmental problems and sometimes intellectual delay.
Australia has some of the world’s best data on babies diagnosed with cerebral palsy through a national registry and their latest report has some incredibly good news.
The rate of cerebral palsy in children up to age 5 has fallen by 30 per cent over the last ten years or so.
The reasons are complex. The care of preterm babies has improved and as their survival has increased, the rate of brain damage has fallen. In some states (for example WA) even the rate of preterm birth itself has fallen as preventive measures have been put in place.
With pool fencing, baby car seats and of the safety regulations, brain injury after birth seems to have dropped too. What’s also good news is that not only is the rate of cerebral palsy falling, but the severity of the condition in those who have it is also dropping.
The one area which needs further advances is maternal infection with cytomegalovirus (CMV) which is known to be neurotoxic. In healthy people, it causes an illness similar to the flu, but for pregnant women, it’s a very dangerous infection. The next big vaccine advance will be a CMV vaccine but we’re still waiting.
Last Reviewed: 31/01/2020
© Norman Swan Medical Communications.
Cerebral palsy Q and A
Cerebral palsy (CP) is the name given to a group of disorders that affect body posture and movement, caused by damage to the part of the brain that controls muscle tone.
Going into labour before your 37th week of pregnancy is called preterm labour, or premature labour.
Bell's palsy is a sudden weakness (paralysis) in the muscles on one side of the face, producing a strange lop-sided appearance.
Whether you are thinking about having a baby for the first time or have been pregnant before, with a little planning you can give yourself the best chance of a healthy pregnancy and baby.
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