New Guidelines for Detecting Cerebral Palsy Early

Brain scans recommended for children with suspected disorder

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TUESDAY, March 23, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Early brain scans for children with suspected cerebral palsy are recommended in new guidelines from the American Academy of Neurology and the Child Neurology Society.

The guidelines, published in the March 23 issue of Neurology, say evidence supports the use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which is preferred over computerized tomography (CT), when it's suspected a child may have cerebral palsy.

Metabolic and genetic studies don't need to be done routinely unless the cause of a child's brain abnormality is not evident from the MRI or clinical history and examination, the guidelines state.

Early diagnosis of cerebral palsy can help the child's parents and doctor understand the cause of the disorder and assist them in making informed treatment decisions.

Children diagnosed with cerebral palsy should also be routinely examined for related disorders.

"Because children with cerebral palsy often have other conditions such as mental retardation, vision and hearing impairments, speech and language disorders, and chewing and swallowing disorders, the initial assessment should include screening for these associated conditions," the guidelines recommend.

About 10,000 babies with cerebral palsy are born each year in the United States; most are diagnosed with the disorder by the time they're 2 years old. Cerebral palsy, which affects posture and movement, is caused by a lesion in the developing brain. It's a non-progressive disease and most children with cerebral palsy improve as they age.

More information

The March of Dimes has more about cerebral palsy.

SOURCE: American Academy of Neurology, news release, March 22, 2004

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