Cerebral palsy is a term used to cover a group of brain and nervous system disorders affecting 10,000 babies annually. About 50% of all cerebral palsy cases involve full-term or near full-term infants. According to the American Medical Association, there are ways to prevent cerebral palsy in full-term and premature infants.
One way to prevent CP in a full-term infant is to prevent chorioamnionitis. Chorioamnionitis is an inflammation or infection in the amnion and/or chorion, the membranes that surround and protect a fetus before birth. It affects 1-10% of term births and is often associated with prolonged labor.
Risk factors for chorioamnionitis include: prolonged labor, maternal age (less than 21 years old), prolonged rupture of membranes, first pregnancy, and multiple vaginal examinations during labor. If it is timely diagnosed (typically after a mother exhibits a fever, increased heart rate, uterine tenderness and/or foul smelling amniotic fluid), chorioamnionitis can be treated with intravenous antibiotics (usually ampicillin or clindamycin, plus gentamicin). Undiagnosed chorioamnionitis, which may be the result of medical malpractice, can lead to serious complications including bacteremia, meningitis and respiratory distress syndrome which, depending upon the severity, can restrict fetal oxygenation and lead to cerebral palsy.
In preterm infants, administering a drug called magnesium sulfate 24 hours before delivery may also reduce the risk of cerebral palsy. Studies suggest that “mag sulfate” has a neuroprotective effect.
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