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Cerebral palsy and perinatal exposure to neurotropic viruses

BMJ 2006; 332 doi: (Published 12 January 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;332:63
  1. Eva Alberman, professor emeritus of clinical epidemiology (,
  2. Catherine Peckham, professor of paediatric epidemiology
  1. Centre for Environmental and Preventive Medicine, Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine, Barts and The London, Queen Mary's School of Medicine and Dentistry, London EC1M 6BQ
  2. Centre for Paediatric Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Institute of Child Health, London WC1N 1EH

    A new study raises further questions about the role of infection

    Cerebral palsy, one of the most common causes of serious long term disability, is a term covering the conditions found to have “non-progressive but often changing motor impairments secondary to lesions or anomalies of the brain arising during early development.”1 The final irreversible neurological damage frequently results from a causal pathway created by the joint effects of several factors including genetic constitution, fetal infection, preterm birth, and problems during delivery. The role of postnatal infection, such as catastrophic meningitis or encephalitis in infancy or early childhood, is usually clear, but the part played by infection in congenital or neonatal cerebral palsy is more complex and needs more investigation.2 A case-control study in this issue (p 76), reporting the prevalence of neurotropic viral nucleic acids in blood spots from routine neonatal screening, if confirmed, may take us a …

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