A recent study conducted by researchers in the Netherlands suggests that improvements have been made regarding the care of infants just before, during and after delivery. Researchers focused on documenting cerebral palsy rates, hoping to identify what causes the brain injury in infants and how cerebral palsy could possibly be prevented. Cerebral palsy is a brain injury that affects one’s motor function skills. The disorder is commonly known to be a result of complications experienced during the birth of a very premature baby.
Researchers studied nearly 3,000 infants who were born prematurely during 1990 through 2005. In earlier cases from 1990 through 1993, researchers reported the cerebral palsy rate at 6.5 percent. Between 2002 through 2005, the number of infants diagnosed with cerebral palsy decreased to 2.2 percent. Along with the decline in cerebral palsy rates, cases studied during the last few years of the project suggested that many of those with the disorder were diagnosed with a less severe case of cerebral palsy compared to those diagnosed in earlier years.
Researchers attributed the decrease in the level of severity of the birth injuries due to a decline in white matter lesions or large hemorrhaging in the brain. Since cerebral palsy is a result of a birth injury, the fact that fewer infants are being diagnosed with the disorder indicates to researchers that the care of premature babies before, during and after delivery has drastically improved over the years. However, doctors admit that they still don’t know what exactly causes cerebral palsy and how to prevent it.
The dramatic decrease in the number of infants diagnosed with cerebral palsy does raise the concern that infants born prior to 2002 to 2005 may not have received proper perinatal care. Doctors and healthcare providers are responsible for the care of their patients. Unfortunately, some doctors and healthcare providers fail to meet certain standards that could lead to a medical mistake resulting in a birth injury or other serious injury that could affect the patient for the rest of his or her life.
Los Angeles Times: “Cerebral palsy cases have dropped,” Shari Roan, 3 Mar. 2011
The Journal of Pediatrics: “Decline in Cerebral Palsy Diagnoses in Infants Born Prematurely Suggests Improvements in Perinatal Care,” 3 Mar. 2011