Thursday, November 04, 2004

Cerebral Palsy, Periventricular Leukomalacia, and Infections

A number of news sites are providing coverage of a study published in the current issues of The American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology. Here is a version of the coverage from the New York Times:
New Evidence on Main Cause of Cerebral Palsy
By NICHOLAS BAKALAR
The New York Times
Published: November 2, 2004

A new study undermines the long-held belief among obstetricians that oxygen deprivation, or hypoxia, is the main cause of cerebral palsy in premature infants.

The study, published in the October issue of The American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, found that the brain injury that leads to cerebral palsy was much more commonly associated with infection than with hypoxia.

The new findings, said Dr. Ernest Graham, an assistant professor in the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Johns Hopkins and the lead author of the study, have important implications for both research and clinical practice.

"This changes our thinking," Dr. Graham said. "In the past, we've focused primarily on hypoxia," but the study suggests that monitoring for hypoxia "isn't likely to help very much."

Finding ways to prevent and treat infections, on the other hand, "may have a huge impact on the problem," he said.

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