Intended for healthcare professionals


Only a minor part of cerebral palsy cases begin in labour

BMJ 1999; 319 doi: (Published 16 October 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;319:1016

But still room for controversial childbirth issues in court

  1. Leiv S Bakketeig, professor of clinical epidemiology (
  1. Institute of Public Health, Odense University, DK-5000 Odense C, Denmark

    Education and debate p 1054

    Cerebral palsy develops in 2-3 out of 1000 live births during the first years of life. Its association with complications during childbirth has led to much controversy—and much litigation. This issue of the BMJ contains an international consensus statement on what is known about the causal relation between acute intrapartum events and cerebral palsy (p 1054).1 The statement has been produced by an international task force representing a wide range of sciences, clinical specialties, and professional associations. The document is based on a thorough multidisciplinary literature review with the intention of benefiting research into the causation and prevention of cerebral palsy and helping those who counsel in this field or who offer expert opinion in court.

    The common assumption is that perinatal asphyxia is the usual cause of cerebral palsy in term babies.2 A few years ago a consensus statement from the Australian and New Zealand perinatal societies concluded, “There is no evidence that current obstetric practices can reduce the risk …

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