8 Conditions to Check in Cerebral Palsy Patients

Patients with cerebral palsy are often faced with secondary health conditions such as diabetes, asthma, and hypertension.

Patients with cerebral palsy are often faced with secondary health conditions such as diabetes, asthma, and hypertension.

University of Michigan researchers recently analyzed 9 years of medical files, which included data on quality of life and health care services, usage, and costs.

The files encompassed data from 200,000 adults, around 1000 of whom were diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

The study’s purpose was to gain more insight on how to reduce or prevent the development of secondary health conditions in the cerebral palsy population.

The researchers found 8 secondary conditions that were more common among the cerebral palsy patients than the larger study cohort:

1. Diabetes (9.2% in adults with cerebral palsy versus 6.3% in adults without)

2. Asthma (20.7% vs 9.4%)

3. Hypertension (30% vs 22.1%)

4. Other cardiovascular conditions (15.1% vs 9.1%)

5. Stroke (4.6% vs 2.3%)

6. Emphysema (3.8% vs 1.4%)

7. Joint pain (43.6% vs 28%)

8. Arthritis (31.4% vs 17.4%)

These findings were consistent even after the researchers adjusted for patient age, sex, obesity, degree of physical disability, and physical inactivity.

This research subject was personal for lead author Mark Peterson, PhD, MS, who is a parent of a child with cerebral palsy.

“Unfortunately, it’s still not fully understood how to best care for individuals with cerebral palsy as they transition into and throughout adulthood,” Dr. Peterson said in a press release. “We sought to determine whether adults with cerebral palsy suffer from secondary chronic health conditions more frequently, and how that can affect future medical care for this population.”

He added that health care providers should be concerned that chronic health conditions are more common among adults with cerebral palsy than those without the disorder.

“Because cerebral palsy results in accelerated losses of mobility with age, individuals tend to experience more fatigue and have greater muscle and joint pain over time,” Dr. Peterson continued. “We found physical inactivity and immobility were strongly associated with these chronic health conditions. Therefore, we need to strongly consider how these health complications could further impact this population, and how we can prevent or reduce these conditions among individuals with cerebral palsy through their lifespan.”

These study findings were published in JAMA.