Caesarean delivery doesn't lower risk of cerebral palsy

(Medical Xpress)—Caesarean deliveries do not prevent children from developing cerebral palsy, despite long-held medical and community beliefs about the causes of cerebral palsy, according to new research led by the University of Adelaide.

In the biggest study of its kind, the Australian Collaborative Cerebral Palsy Research Group, based in the University's Robinson Institute, has analysed all published studies involving more than 3,800 cases and almost 1.7 million healthy children.

The findings, to be published in the December issue of the prestigious journal Obstetrics & Gynecology, show that the risk of cerebral palsy is not lowered by either elective caesarean delivery before labour or emergency caesarean delivery during labour.

"For over a century it was assumed, without good evidence, that most cases of cerebral palsy were due to low oxygen levels or trauma at birth," says research leader Emeritus Professor Alastair MacLennan from the University of Adelaide's Robinson Institute.

"The simple facts are that over the last 40 years, caesarean rates have increased more than six-fold from 5% to 33% in Australia and in many other countries. However, the incidence of cerebral palsy has remained at 2-2.5 per 1000 births," he says.

Lead author and Affiliate Lecturer Dr Michael O'Callaghan says: "This systematic review of the literature clearly shows that the causes of cerebral palsy have little to do with mode of delivery. Therefore, the actual causes of cerebral palsy must lie elsewhere."

The Australian Collaborative Cerebral Palsy Research Group is investigating the probable genetic origins of cerebral palsy.

Emeritus Professor MacLennan says the findings of this study are "clinically important". "This will influence cases of cerebral palsy litigation, where it is often claimed that earlier caesarean delivery would have avoided the cerebral palsy outcome," he says.

"We now need to focus our efforts on finding the antenatal causes of cerebral palsy and their prevention. These may include genetic vulnerability and environmental triggers, such as infection.

"It should be noted that carefully selected caesarean delivery on occasions may prevent stillbirth or reduce the risk of other complications in the newborn, but it will not reduce the risk of cerebral palsy," he says.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New hope for cerebral palsy prevention

Aug 02, 2010

University of Adelaide researchers are a step closer to finding a link between genetic susceptibility to cerebral palsy and a range of environmental risk factors during pregnancy, including infections and ...

10,000 people in world-first cerebral palsy study

Jul 02, 2008

Researchers from the University of Adelaide, Australia, have launched the largest study of its kind in the world in a bid to better understand the possible genetic causes of cerebral palsy.

Recommended for you

No connection between induced labor, autism

23 hours ago

(HealthDay)—There is no connection between inducing labor in childbirth and autism, according to a new statement released Monday by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Prolonged, heavy bleeding during menopause is common

Apr 15, 2014

Women going through menopause most likely think of it as the time for an end to predictable monthly periods. Researchers at the University of Michigan say it's normal, however, for the majority of them to experience an increase ...

Italy IVF patient pregnant with wrong embryos

Apr 13, 2014

A woman who underwent fertility treatment at a clinic in Rome became pregnant with the twins of another couple after their embryos were mixed up, press reports said Sunday.

User comments