Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Cerebral Palsy - Early Warning?




Cerebral palsy affects approximately 0.2% of pregnancies. It is the most common birth defect known and its effects are devastating. Those born with cerebral palsy are condemned to a lifetime of suffering and in the worst cases total immobility. There is also a huge social stigma to be endured, and those suffering from the condition are often the butt of tasteless jokes. Sufferers are also generally thought to be intellectually impaired. Whilst this is the case for some, it is certainly not for all and the intelligence range of sufferers is the same as for the population as a whole.The condition has numerous causes. The vast majority occur in the womb. About 5% occur during birth (of which almost half can be attributed to medical negligence), and about 15% occur after birth.If it was possible to determine whether a foetus already had cerebral palsy during the early gestation period then it would be possible to offer the parents the option of terminating the pregnancy. This happens with other congenital conditions such as Downs Syndrome so the ethics are already established. Here we will look at the science of early cerebral palsy detection.Unlike Downs Syndrome, cerebral palsy is not a genetic defect and so cannot be detected by genetic analysis of amniotic fluid or foetal tissue. One possibility of early detection is to examine the brain of the developing foetus. As the scull is not properly developed, there is the possibility of using ultrasound scans of the foetus brain. Alternatively MRI scans might be able to provide additional information.Currently neither of these techniques is used to detect foetal cerebral palsy; however recently new developments in ultrasound techniques, including full 3D imaging, have certainly opened up the field. MRI scanning has been shown to be safe to use on a late developing foetus and has been used to produce images of foetal brains and has indeed imaged evidence of brain damage in a number of cases. The problem with MRI is that is an extremely expensive technique.An additional possibility is to look for tell tale signs of cerebral palsy by examining the movements and reactions of the foetus. Recently it has been shown that the foetus does engage in quite complex behaviours. Possibly abnormal behaviours could be attributed to the onset of early cerebral palsy. Research into these areas could virtually eliminate this dreadful condition in the future. For now adequate resources must be made available to care for these unfortunate people.--Cerebral palsy affects approximately 0.2% of pregnancies. It is the most common birth defect known and its effects are devastating. Those born with cerebral palsy are condemned to a lifetime of suffering and in the worst cases total immobility. There is also a huge social stigma to be endured, and those suffering from the condition are often the butt of tasteless jokes. Sufferers are also generally thought to be intellectually impaired. Whilst this is the case for some, it is certainly not for all and the intelligence range of sufferers is the same as for the population as a whole.The condition has numerous causes. The vast majority occur in the womb. About 5% occur during birth (of which almost half can be attributed to medical negligence), and about 15% occur after birth.Source: http://www.articletrader.com
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