Genetics may have larger-than-expected influence on cerebral palsy incidence

Cerebral palsy incidence may have a stronger genetic cause than previously thought, according to a review published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Members of the Australian Cerebral Palsy Research Group, based at the University of Adelaide’s Robinson Research Institute, argue that up to 45% of cerebral palsy cases can be genetic, leading them to call for an end to unnecessary caesareans and arbitrary litigation against obstetric staff.

This research builds on previous data, which demonstrated that at least 14% of cerebral palsy cases were likely to be caused by a genetic mutation. The group expects that percentage to increase as genetic sequencing techniques evolve, according to a press release.

“Many children who have received a diagnosis of cerebral palsy may have an inherited or spontaneous genetic cause,” Suzanna Thompson, PhD, a pediatric neurologist at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital, Adelaide, and co-author of the paper, said in a press release. “This is exciting because we can now focus research on the beginning of pregnancy and not so unfruitfully on the circumstances of birth.”

Further research is needed, but the researchers believe that eventually, cerebral palsy genetic testing before, during and after pregnancy will be introduced as a method of prevention, according to the release.


Thompson S, et al. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2015; doi:10.1016/j.ajog.2015.05.034.

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.

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