Cerebral Palsy – Are Genetics Involved?

A recent Canadian study has shed new light on Cerebral Palsy and its development in babies and young children.

Long thought to be caused by a brain injury during an infant’s development as a fetus or due to delivery or birth complications, the recent research conducted by the Centre for Applied Genomics is casting a new light on this debilitating condition. The CAG research group, which is part of Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, recently determined that one in 10 cases, perhaps even higher, of Cerebral Palsy may actually be as a result of genetics.For decades CP was always viewed as an injury which was caused prior to or during the birthing process. Usually, as a result of a difficult birth, but also during fetal development, CP results due to a lack of oxygen at delivery or an injury caused while the baby was in the womb. However, with the possibility that disruption on a genetic level may be responsible in some CP cases, these findings are sure to shed new light on the condition.

For those not informed, CP is a very serious condition that limits and incapcitates the person afflicted with it. The most noticeable issues and challenges one faces when living with CP are lack of or severe retardation of motor skills which may include atrophy, sudden or uncontrollable movements and spasms and other physical problems that impact the daily life of an individual diagnosed with CP.

In addition to the host of physical limitations, sensory and mental difficulties are also evident. Developmentally delayed learning, auditory and visual impairments and speech are often affected greatly. In some cases a person with Cerebral Palsy may be able to live a somewhat productive life, without much assistance, while others who suffer from the affliction may be in a more serious state and are often unable to communicate, move or do anything without assistance or aid.

The latest research, led by doctors from the McGill University Health Centre in Montreal, found that 1 in every 10 children showed signs of molecular changes at the DNA level. The alterations to the DNA of these children were noted to affect genes and that the changes to the DNA code can lead to the development of CP. A further finding noted in the study indicated that there is a spectrum of genes directly linked to the development of CP, and not just one specific gene.

With this latest research and study, the long perceived notion that Cerebral Palsy is merely caused by some form of physical trauma during birth will have to be reconsidered as the potential for genetic anomalies may explain and lead to a re-evaluation of this serious condition.

Although the findings address a portion of CP cases, 90% are related to in vitro events or the birthing process. We should be weary about how this research will lead to the abusive use of the study to deny legitimate claimants their appropriate recovery. The importance of screening the cause of the unfortunate outcome becomes all the more important.

The lawyers at Wagners have assisted many families who have had an infant or young child affected by Cerebral Palsy. We will continue to monitor these latest medical and technological developments. It may be that in the future, DNA screening for genetic abnormalities in the parents may be carried out or implemented which will allow parents to know if they may pass on the affected genes to their future child.

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