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MARKETPLACE:  Auto | Jobs | Personals | Yellow Pages  November 13, 2003
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Low Birthweight may Predict Cerebral Palsy
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(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Doctors now know a little more about the origins of the physical disability cerebral palsy. A new European study finds babies born in the lowest 10 percent group for weight are four- to six-times more likely to develop cerebral palsy. Those in the highest 3 percent are also at risk.

Cerebral palsy is a group of disorders characterized by loss of movement or loss of other nerve functions. These disorders are caused by injuries to the brain and doctors do not fully understand how this occurs. Previous theories suggested it was connected to complications during childbirth, but new research suggests it occurs during fetal development.

In this new study, conducted by physicians from around the world, data looking at birthweight, gestational age, and the incidence of cerebral palsy was compared. The doctors write, "Babies of 32 to 42 weeks' gestation with a birthweight for gestational age below the 10th percentile (using fetal growth standards) were four- to six-times more likely to have cerebral palsy than were children in a reference band between the 25th and 75th percentiles." Children above the 97th percentile showed a slight risk.

The authors write, "The risk of cerebral palsy, like the risk of prenatal death, is lowest in babies who are of above average weight-for-gestation at birth, but risk rises when weight is well above normal as well as when it is well below normal." They also suggest this debunks the theory that obstetrical complications cause CP.

An accompanying editorial supports the validity of the study and says the most surprising finding is that children in the highest weight percentiles are at risk. They write, "The abnormal or injured brain could lead to accelerated growth through neuroendrocrine or other central influences."

This article was reported by Ivanhoe.com, who offers Medical Alerts by e-mail every day of the week. To subscribe, go to: http://www.ivanhoe.com/newsalert/.

SOURCE: The Lancet, 2003;362:1106-1111

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