Information for Parents of Children with Cerebral Palsy

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Viruses linked with cerebral palsy

Jan 26, 2006

"Infections around the time of birth may increase risk for the nerve disorder

Exposure to viral infections around the time of birth may increase the risk that newborns will develop cerebral palsy.
Cerebral palsy is a group of disorders characterized by loss of movement or other nerve functions caused by brain injuries during fetal development or birth.

A study led by PhD candidate Catherine Gibson of the University of Adelaide in Australia compared blood samples from 443 babies with cerebral palsy and 883 babies without the condition.

Blood samples taken within a few days of birth were tested for viruses that have an affinity for nerve tissue, including members of the herpes family.

Exposure to these viruses was common among both groups of babies. Premature babies were particularly likely to be exposed to viral infection, which may indicate a relationship between infection and preterm birth.

In addition, exposure to herpes group B viruses was associated with a two-fold increase in risk of cerebral palsy. These viruses include varicella zoster, the virus responsible for chickenpox and shingles."

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