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Cerebral Palsy Rates Are Dropping in Australia

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Cerebral palsy damages the nervous system and muscle control, affecting movement and coordination. While the cause is often unknown, there are risk factors.

Cerebral palsy is one of the most common disabilities in Australia. In Australia, there are around 40,000 people living with cerebral palsy. 

New research published in Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology indicates that fewer babies in Australia are being born with cerebral palsy, a lifelong disorder of movement and posture resulting from injury or maldevelopment of the developing brain.

According to Australian Cerebral Palsy Register data on singleton births from 1995–2014, the prevalence of cerebral palsy at or around the time of birth declined from 1.8 per 1,000 live births in 1995–96 to 1.2 per 1,000 live births in 201314.

Declines occurred across all gestational ages, with the largest decline observed among children born less than 28 weeks’ gestation. The prevalence of moderate-severe disability amongst children with cerebral palsy also declined for children born less than 28 and and more than 37 weeks.

‘These findings are encouraging and importantly show the cumulative impact of interventions that support maternal and perinatal well-being,’ said lead author Hayley Smithers-Sheedy, PhD, of The University of Sydney.

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