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Prevalence of Cerebral Palsy in Alberta

Charlene M.T. Robertson, Lawrence W. Svenson, Michel R. Joffres

Abstract: Background: In spite of scattered reports to the contrary, concern is continually expressed that the frequency of cerebral palsy has not decreased with modern perinatal/neonatal care. Overall, epidemiological information on cerebral palsy is scant. The generally accepted prevalence is 2 to 2.5 per thousand school-age children. Methods: A population-based record linkage study of a presently living cohort of 96,359 children born from April, 1985 through March, 1988 and followed over an eight-year tracking period captured the diagnostic codes for all fee-for-service physician claims, all hospital separations and individual birth data from the Department of Vital Statistics of the Government of Alberta. The ICD-9 code "343" was used to identify subjects. The childhood prevalence and frequency by birth-weight-specific sub-groups of cerebral palsy were determined. Results: Two hundred and forty-eight living children with confirmed cerebral palsy after age three years (congenital, 229 [92.3%]; probable acquired 19 [7.7%]) were identified giving an overall prevalence of 2.57 per 1000. Seventy percent were diagnosed before their third birthday. Cohort prevalence of cerebral palsy for low birthweight children (< 2500 grams) was 17.7, very low birthweight (< 1500 grams), 78.5; and extremely low birthweight (< 1000 grams), 98.4. Low birthweight children made up just over one-third of cases in this study. Conclusions: Cerebral palsy continues to affect a significant number of children suggesting the prevalence of cerebral palsy has not decreased. The proportion of affected children with low birthweight in this study is less than that reported in the literature.


Can. J. Neurol. Sci. 1998; 25: 117-122


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