Genes may cause cerebral palsy, Norwegian study suggests

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 July, 2014, 9:55pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 July, 2014, 9:55pm


Cerebral palsy, a disability of the brain linked to problems in pregnancy or birth, may have an inherited cause, according to a study published yesterday.

Researchers in Norway found that families where a close relative had cerebral palsy were at increased risk of giving birth to a child with this condition.

The investigators searched a top-quality database covering the health of Norwegians born between 1967 and 2002.

In absolute terms, the risk of having a child with cerebral palsy was extremely low, they found.

Of 2.03 million people born during this period, 3,649 were diagnosed with the condition.

But in families where a child had cerebral palsy, there was a six- to-nine-fold increased risk that the following brother or sister would also be born with it, compared with families with no history of the disability.

Parents affected by cerebral palsy carried a six-fold risk of having an affected child compared with unaffected parents.

The risks were seen even after premature births, an important factor in cerebral palsy, were stripped out of the calculations.

Cerebral palsy affects nearly two in every 1,000 births, according to European figures. It originates from damage to the immature brain, resulting in problems such as epilepsy, poor motor control and learning difficulties

Until now, most blame has been laid on events in pregnancy or delivery, such as premature birth, infection in the womb, iodine deficiency in the mother's diet, multiple fetuses and lack of oxygen to the brain.