October 15, 2010

Quick Diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy

(Ivanhoe Newswire) "“ Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder that affects muscles and nerves of the body. It's not curable. This study shows there is an association between having a low Apgar score at birth and having cerebral palsy.

The Apgar score is a quick and simple way to assess a baby's condition at birth. The baby is assessed on five simple criteria including complexion, pulse rate, reaction when stimulated, muscle tone, and breathing. The five values are then summed up to obtain a score from zero to 10. Scores of 3 and below are low, 4 to 6 fairly low, and 7 to 10 generally normal.

Cerebral palsy is a rare disease, affecting two to three infants in every 1000 children in Western countries. It can affect any of the following: movement, hearing, learning, seeing, and thinking. A total of 988 children included in the study (1.8 in 1000) were diagnosed with cerebral palsy before the age of five years.

Using linked data from the Medical Birth Registry of Norway and the Norwegian Registry of Cerebral Palsy in Children, the researchers assessed the association of Apgar score five minutes after birth with cerebral palsy in 543,064 children born between 1986 and 1995.

Low Apgar score was strongly associated with later diagnosis of cerebral palsy. The prevalence of cerebral palsy in children with Apgar score of less than 3 was more than 100-fold higher than in children with a score of 10. This association was high in children with normal birth weight and modest in children with low birth weight.

"Despite the strong association of low Apgar score with cerebral palsy, it is encouraging that almost 90% of children with an Apgar score of less than 4 at birth did not develop cerebral palsy," say the authors.

Given that Apgar score is a measure of vitality shortly after birth, our findings suggest that the causes of cerebral palsy are closely linked to factors that reduce infant vitality,. In fact, low Apgar score might be interpreted as an indicator of brain impairment that has occurred during pregnancy or delivery.

SOURCE: BMJ, published online October 14, 2010