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Key Findings: Prevalence of cerebral palsy, co-occurring autism spectrum disorders, and motor functioning

Photo of parents with child who has cerebral palsyThe Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology journal has published a new study: “Prevalence of Cerebral Palsy, Co-Occurring Autism Spectrum Disorders, and Motor Functioning - Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, USA, 2008.” Cerebral palsy remains the most common motor disability in childhood, and children with cerebral palsy and their families continue to need support. Communities can use CDC’s information on the number and characteristics of children with cerebral palsy to plan for services, guide policy, and promote full participation in community and family life. Information about the co-occurrence of cerebral palsy and other conditions, such as autism spectrum disorder, can also help direct research into shared risk factors and causes.

You can read the article’s abstract here. See below for a summary of the findings from this article.
 


Main Findings:
About 1 in every 323 children in the United States (US) has been identified with cerebral palsy. This estimate comes from the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network, which tracks the number and characteristics of 8-year-old children with autism spectrum disorder and other developmental disabilities in diverse communities throughout the United States. In 2008, there were 14 ADDM Network sites tracking autism spectrum disorder, and four of those sites also tracked cerebral palsy. These four sites, which include areas in Alabama, Georgia, Missouri, and Wisconsin, are referred to as the ADDM CP Network. Based on children who were 8 years old and living in these communities in 2008:

    • Cerebral palsy was more common among boys than among girls.
    • Cerebral palsy was more common among Black children than White children. Hispanic and White children were about equally likely to have cerebral palsy.
    • The majority (77%) of the children identified with cerebral palsy had the spastic (or stiff muscles) type of cerebral palsy.
    • Over half (58%) of the children identified with cerebral palsy could walk independently.
    • Many of the children with cerebral palsy also had at least one co-occurring condition.
      • 41% had co-occurring epilepsy. Co-occurring epilepsy was more common among children with cerebral palsy who had limited or no walking ability.
      • Almost 7% had co-occurring autism spectrum disorder. Co-occurring autism spectrum disorder was more common among children with non-spastic cerebral palsy than spastic cerebral palsy.
        • It is important to note that the identified prevalence of autism spectrum disorder among children with cerebral palsy was higher than among their peers without cerebral palsy—about 7% vs. 1% (1).

  • What should I do if I think my child might have cerebral palsy?

    As a parent, you know your child best. If your child is not meeting the motor or movement milestones for his or her age, talk with your child’s doctor and share your concerns. Do not wait.

    To learn more about developmental milestones and get free milestone checklists, please visit CDC’s website: www.cdc.gov/ActEarly

    Cerebral Palsy: CDC’s Activities
    We at CDC are committed to continuing to provide essential data on cerebral palsy and to improve early identification in hopes that all children have the opportunity to thrive. To learn more, please download the ADDM CP Network Community Report or visit CDC’s website: www.cdc.gov/cp.

     

    Key Findings Reference
    Prevalence of Cerebral Palsy, Co-Occurring Autism Spectrum Disorders, and Motor Functioning - Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, USA, 2008. Christensen D, Van Naarden Braun K, Doernberg N, Maenner M, Durkin M, Arneson C, Benedict R, Wingate M, Fitzgerald R, Kirby RS, Yeargin-Allsopp M. Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology. October 2013.

    Additional References
    1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Prevalence of autism spectrum disorders--Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, 14 sites, United States, 2008. MMWR Surveill Summ. 2012;61(3):1-19.
    Prevalence is the scientific term describing the number of individuals with a disease or condition among a defined group of people.

     

    Cerebral palsy is a group of disorders that affect a person’s ability to move and maintain balance and posture.
 
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