Many of our blogs have focused on cerebral palsy, a group of movement disorders
that may result from brain damage during labor or birth. This includes
diagnosing cerebral palsy, the
costs of raising a child with the condition, and
health concerns associated with cerebral palsy as children age, among others. In this
blog we will discuss ongoing research into cerebral palsy treatment and
While cerebral is the most common movement disability among children, with
more than 10,000 diagnoses a year in the U.S., the medical community still
faces challenges in understanding the disorder, prevention methods, and
most appropriate forms of treatment. Today, medical experts and researchers
work diligently to further our collective understanding of a condition
that significantly impacts the lives of children and their families, and
they have made significant strides.
Because the precise cause of cerebral palsy is not yet fully understood,
there is currently no definitive method to prevent the condition from
developing during the course of pregnancy, during delivery, or immediately
after birth. Researchers, however, have come to understand certain risk
factors and have identified various things families and medical professional
can do to reduce the likelihood of a child developing cerebral palsy.
The efficacy of preventative measures will still vary depending on when
brain damage occurs.
During Pregnancy – Prevention during pregnancy is centered on mothers staying healthy
and maintaining good habits. Medical experts report that mothers can help
reduce risks of their child developing cerebral palsy during pregnancy
by avoiding exposure to infections or viruses know for adverse effects
to a fetus (such as Zika), managing underlying health conditions such
as diabetes or high blood pressure, avoiding substance and cigarette use,
and receiving Rh factor tests. Rhesus factor is a protein in the blood,
and mothers considered Rh negative require special care during pregnancy
to avoid adverse health effects to both themselves and their babies.
During Birth – Medical innovations and better understanding of their applicability
during birth have allowed medical professionals to better monitor a baby’s
health while in the womb and more easily identify complications. Reducing
risk factors focuses on monitoring maternal and fetal heart rate, avoiding
stress-induced trauma, and receiving regular checkups in the weeks prior
to labor and delivery. Prevention of cerebral palsy during birth may be
part of a standard response to brain damage and oxygen deprivation, including
HIE and head cooling, which should be performed within six hours of delivery.
After Birth – Parents should monitor children after birth in order to reduce
chances of head trauma and to evaluate developmental milestones a child
may be late to achieve, or have difficulties meeting. This requires vaccinations
for common infections, using appropriate car seats and cribs with railings,
and never leaving newborns and children unattended. Parents should also
pay close attention to any conditions their child may display, including
jaundice, which, when left untreated, can lead to a form of brain damage
known as kernicterus. Researchers have found that treating jaundice proactively
in newborns is one of the most medically effective means of preventing
As of yet, there is no known cure for Cerebral Palsy. As such, treatment
methods currently focus on helping children with cerebral palsy effectively
manage symptoms and improve function in their daily lives. As neuroscientists
and researchers continue to explore the developing brain, there is hope
that progress toward a cure will be made. In particular, research efforts
have focused heavily on finding a cure to cerebral palsy with stem cell therapy.
Although stem cell transplantation in the treatment of CP is still new,
clinical trials have begun testing the effectiveness of introducing stem
cells using umbilical cord blood infusions. Because stem cells can develop
into brain cells and replace damaged cells, researchers theorize that
introducing stem cells into the body can stimulate a response for repair.
Researchers also suggest that stem cells can be used in a lab to create
new cells that can replace damaged brain cells.
The medical community is split over the effectiveness of stem cell therapy
in the treatment of cerebral palsy, a sign that there is still much to
be learned about the disorder and how the brain functions in general.
Even if stem cells were not able to cure the condition, researchers can
evaluate testing that may indicate it can be effective in reducing symptoms
and increasing mobility in patients.
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