Written by Jeff Meyer on 20 Jan 2016
Cerebral Palsy is a debilitating medical condition generally linked to brain damage in infants during or immediately following birth. Cerebral palsy in manifestation is a physical disability whereby the patient’s brain function interferes with and severely limits bodily movement, motor skills, fine tactile skills, and speech abilities as well.
JAMA Reports Strong Links between Cerebral Palsy and Patients Developing Obesity and Hypertension
But according to new research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), there are even more potential complications and risks for those who have cerebral palsy, who in practice are at much higher risk than the general population for other potential ailments later in life, including most notably hypertension and obesity.
All of this is based upon a study of over 200,000 adults (1,015 of whom have cerebral palsy) via the US Medical Expenditure Panel Survey. Among the findings:
- 4% of those with cerebral palsy were diagnosed as obese, compared to 29.7% of those who do not have it.
- 30% of those with cerebral palsy in the study had hypertension (high blood pressure), versus 22.1% of those not afflicted by CP.
- 6% of cerebral palsy had a moderate disability while 8.9% were rated as severe disability. This compares to 11.3% and 4.9%, respectively, of test non-cerebral palsy participants.
- CP participants also had statistically significant higher rates of stroke, diabetes, emphysema (twice as likely to be diagnosed in those with CP than those without), arthritis, joint pain, and asthma.
- Those with cerebral palsy are much more likely to lose mobility at an earlier age than participants who did not, with mobility issues only worsening incrementally over the lifetime of a cerebral palsy patient in many instances
The study was controlled and adjusted to account for outside factors including race (African-Americans are at much higher risk for CP, for instance), education, and income.
The consequences of their findings are stark; the researchers concluded that any future attempts at better healthcare must consider the extent and complexity of the complications facing cerebral palsy patients, which often compound one another over time progressively worsening over the course of the lifetime of the patient in many cases.
Though the causes are unknown, cerebral palsy is almost certainly strongly correlated by most medical research to be related to events surrounding the birth of the infant. Researchers have recently been considering whether the early development of the brain, including genetic defects, might contribute to the risk. Traumatic events at the child’s birth, including bleeding, epileptic seizures, and circulation problems could also add at the likelihood of contracting CP.
Cerebral Palsy is found in 2.2 infants per every 1,000 births, according to medical research by the US Centers for Disease Control, and in this sense presents as a relatively rare condition, however the devastating nature of cerebral palsy increases public awareness significantly. This is fortunate, as while there is no cure for cerebral palsy, there is much that can be done to alleviate its conditions, including surgery to loosen tight muscles; braces, wheelers, wheelchairs to increase mobility; medical drugs to reduce the possibility and/or impact of seizures; and various types of therapy including speech, physical, and occupational.