It used to be believed that cerebral palsy (CP) was not related to genetics. However, one Norwegian study of over two-million children suggests that this may not be the case. While the risk of having a second or subsequent child with CP is small, it’s worth learning more about the possible hereditary factor before you decide to have another child.
Being the parent of a disabled child can be a wonderful experience, but it also has its challenges. The challenges CP presents will vary from patient to patient, and some cases can be severe, involving significant impairments in movements or motor function. This can lead to difficulty with day to day activities. Visit this Nevada Cerebral Palsy Lawyer page to learn more about the challenges CP presents and the resources that may be available to you.
You know your child, and you also know your limits with regard to time, resources, and patience. Many parents of kids with CP decide to expand their families, while others understand that they are tapped out in every sense and want to focus on the child they already have. This is an intensely personal choice, and it’s one that will affect your older children, as well.
Genetics and Cerebral Palsy
If you’re concerned about your risk of passing this condition on, consider these statistics from the Norwegian study which was conducted between 1967 and 2002:
- Cerebral palsy is more likely to happen if you have close family members with CP.
- If one twin has CP, the other twin has 15 times the risk of also having it.
- Full siblings are six to nine times more likely to develop cerebral palsy.
- A child with a cousin with cerebral palsy is 1.5 more likely to have it.
- Children of parents with cerebral palsy are 6.5 more likely to develop the disorder.
- The British Medical Journal reported that half-siblings or kids with CP are three times more likely to have the disorder.
While genetic influences may be at play regarding who does and does not develop cerebral palsy, it doesn’t mean it’s hereditary. Instead, it may mean that having a genetic condition may make a baby or child more likely to end up with CP when it is subjected to brain trauma.
Researchers still have a lot of work to do in this area before the relationship between genes and CP is fully understood. Regardless of the influence of genetics, there are still other risk factors you should know about.
Other Risk Factors
The following risk factors increase a baby’s likelihood of developing cerebral palsy. Although these can be alarming, remember only 1.5 to 4 babies out of every 10,000 live births results in cerebral palsy. Some of the risks of developing CP include:
- Rh incompatibility
- Low birth weight
- Premature birth
- Twins and multiples
- Seizure disorder
- Infertility treatments
- Fever and infection
- Complications during labor and delivery
There are ways to minimize the chances that any of these risk factors will happen to you. If you’re considering conceiving again, ask your obstetrician about what you can do to lessen the risk to your baby.
Some of the ways you can achieve this include maintaining a healthy weight and staying active during your pregnancy. Taking prenatal vitamins has also been shown to minimize certain risks. You’ll also want to make sure you’re up to date on your vaccinations.
It’ll be interesting to see what scientists discover in the future regarding the genetic connection to cerebral palsy. Until they do, understand that no one knows what the future holds. Fear of the future doesn’t need to stop any of us from having the family we’ve always dreamed of. Being informed about all possible risks may also cause you to reevaluate your dreams to live the best possible life.