Recent figures suggest that the rate of babies born with Cerebral Palsy, which has been relatively steady for the last 50 years or so, may be falling. Here are some interesting Cerebral Palsy statistics from the study.
Cerebral Palsy Facts
In developed countries, the rate of Cerebral Palsy is about 2 to 2.5 per 1,000 live births. The United Cerebral Palsy Foundation estimates that nearly 800,000 children and adults in the United States are living with cerebral palsy and about 10,000 babies are born with Cerebral Palsy each year. The condition is significantly more common among infants born weighing less than 3.3 pounds (1.5kg).
A recent Liverpool University, UK, study (by Dr Mary Jane Platt, The Lancet, January 2007) recently looked at changes in cerebral palsy rates recorded at 16 European Cerebral Palsy centres from 1980 to 1996. The study found that the rate of Cerebral Palsy in very low birth-weight infants and those born at less than 32 weeks has dropped from six percent of live births in 1980 to four percent in 1996, despite an increase in the number of very low birth weight babies. The study noted that this decline was due to a drop in the incidence of the most severe type of Cerebral Palsy, and was probably due to improved care at and around the time of birth.
In commenting on the Liverpool University study, Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio said the study findings are consistent with their research on low birth weight infants, adding that despite the encouraging decrease in the prevalence of Cerebral Palsy there is no cause for complacency as Cerebral Palsy is still associated with major disabilities.
Other research teams in the UK, Denmark and Sweden have found evidence that the cerebral palsy rate among low birth weight infants has indeed begun to fall, but studies from centres in Australia and Emory University, Atlanta (Sarah Winter MD., et al, Pediatrics December 2002), have not shown a fall.
The study of the rate of cerebral palsy in Atlanta from 1975 to 1991, found a modest increase from 1.7 to 2.0 per 1,000 babies who survived for at least a year. Of most concern is this trend was primarily attributable to a slight increase in Cerebral Palsy in infants of normal birth weight, although no change was seen in low birth weight and very low birth weight infants.
What can we do to reduce Cerebral Palsy rates in the Future?
This leaves us with the obvious question as to what can be done to reduce Cerebral Palsy rates in the future? After investigating possible links to fetal heart rate monitoring and caesarean deliveries, Dr Steven L. Clark, M.D. of the University of Utah (American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, March 2003 concludes, “Except in rare instances, cerebral palsy is a developmental event that is unpreventable given our current state of technology.”
My own thoughts are given the circumstances surrounding my birth and the fact that my mother had said it was a difficult birth, I believe more could have been done to prevent my problem, had the midwifery staff not waited so long between my twin’s birth and mine. Being born one hour later than my twin sister meant there was a high likelihood I would get into difficulty as my mother was left too long between deliveries.
Although in the 1960’s when I was born, technology wasn’t as advanced as it is today, I also believe human error could also be a significant factor for babies being born with Cerebral Palsy. Errors of judgement, as my case has proved, means the risks could be minimised.
It’s not just enough to put Cerebral Palsy down to a birth problem. Unfortunately, it’s become an acceptable part of being born. There are of course cases where premature births are concerned, difficulty around the birth; or something goes wrong at the time of birth or in the womb, but the problem is we’ve become too complacent about births generally and that needs to change.
It is said that Cerebral Palsy rates have now fallen because of improved care and that must continue. I know that if care had have been improved around my birth, my mum wouldn’t have got into difficulty and it is highly likely that I wouldn’t have been born with Cerebral Palsy.
Adapted from: Psych Central.com