Individuals diagnosed with cerebral palsy may face a higher risk of suffering from other diseases, such as heart disease and lung disease, according to the findings of new research.
In a study published late last month in the journal Neurology, researchers from Ireland indicate that those who have cerebral palsy are 75% more likely to have other preventable diseases, when compared to individuals who have not been diagnosed with the disability.
Researchers analyzed data on 1,700 adults with cerebral palsy, and compared the findings to 5,100 individuals without cerebral palsy, matched by age, sex, and general practice. Participants’ primary care data was taken from the U.K. Clinical Practice Research Datalink, a research service that collects patient data form a network of general practices across the United Kingdom.
Overall, adults with cerebral palsy had a 75% increased risk of developing any noncommunicable disease, like cardiovascular disease or respiratory disease, compared to adults without cerebral palsy.
Adults with cerebral palsy faced a 76% higher risk of getting heart disease and more than double the risk of getting lung disease than adults who don’t have cerebral palsy.
Adults with cerebral palsy were also more likely to experience other health conditions that are linked to both heart and lung disease, like heart failure, stroke, asthma, hypertensive heart disease, chronic high blood pressure, and ischemic heart disease.
There was no evidence indicating adults with cerebral palsy had an increased risk of cancer or type 2 diabetes mellitus.
Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder which may be attributed to brain damage suffered before, during or shortly after birth. If the child’s brain is deprived of oxygen around the time of birth, it can result in irreversible damage that leaves the child with development problems, loss of motor functions, and other life-long injuries and disabilities. Patients with cerebral palsy also have a lower survival rate compared to other individuals.
Researchers speculate certain factors associated with cerebral palsy may contribute to the increased risk of disease including severity of motor impairments, presence of epilepsy, musculoskeletal disorders, and mental health disorders.
However, the findings of the study highlight the need for improved clinical vigilance regarding identification of diseases in people with cerebral palsy, the researchers indicated. Since the diseases are potentially preventable it is important to conduct further research into the onset and management of these diseases to help improve life quality and potentially prevent further disease in other patients in the future, they concluded.