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Health Tip: Cerebral Palsy

Can it be prevented?

(HealthDay News) -- Nearly 764,000 children and adults in the United States show one or more of the symptoms of cerebral palsy. Currently, about 8,000 babies and infants are diagnosed with the condition each year.

In addition, about 1,200 to 1,500 preschool-age children are diagnosed annually with cerebral palsy.

Cerebral palsy (CP) is not a disease. It is the collective name for a group of chronic conditions affecting body movement and muscle coordination. CP is caused by damage to one or more specific areas of the brain, usually occurring during fetal development; before, during, or shortly after birth; or during infancy.

According to the United Cerebral Palsy Association, CP can be prevented.

Pregnant women are tested routinely for the Rh factor and, if Rh negative, they can be immunized within 72 hours after the birth (or after the pregnancy terminates) to prevent adverse consequences of blood incompatibility in a subsequent pregnancy.

If the woman has not been immunized, the consequences of blood incompatibility in the newborn can be prevented by an exchange transfusion in the baby.

Immunization against measles for all women who have not had measles and who could become pregnant is also an essential preventive measure against CP.

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