Can cerebral palsy be prevented?
It is now believed that cerebral palsy may be due to a variety of factors including genetic abnormalities stress put upon the baby during the labor and delivery process. These situations where stress is put upon a child during the labor and delivery process are usually deemed to be preventable.
For example, the use of electronic fetal monitoring machines to keep track of an unborn baby’s heartbeat during labor, and the use of emergency cesarean section surgery when there are significant signs of fetal distress, haven’t lowered the numbers of babies born with cerebral palsy. Interventions to treat other prenatal causes of cerebral palsy, such as therapies to prevent prenatal stroke or antibiotics to cure intrauterine infections, haven’t yet been proven to lower the risk of cerebral palsy in vulnerable infants.
Fortunately, acquired cerebral palsy, often due to head injury, is preventable using common safety tactics, such as using car seats for infants and toddlers, and making sure young children wear helmets when they ride bicycles. In addition, common sense measures around the household, such as supervising babies and young children closely when they bathe, can reduce the risk of accidental injury.
Need for research
Despite the best efforts of parents and physicians, however, children will still be born with cerebral palsy. Since in many cases the cause or causes of cerebral palsy aren’t fully known, little can currently be done to prevent it. As investigators learn more about the causes of cerebral palsy through basic and clinical research, doctors and parents will know more about how to prevent this disorder.