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Children's Health

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Cerebral Palsy Kids Just as Happy

Children With Cerebral Palsy Rate Their Quality of Life Much Like Other Kids
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

June 28, 2007 -- Cerebral palsy may not drastically cut children's quality of life, according to a new study.

The study comes from researchers including Allan Colver, MD, of England's Newcastle University.

"Many parents are upset when their child is diagnosed with cerebral palsy," write Colver and colleagues, "but they can now be reassured that most children with cerebral palsy who can provide information when eight to 12 years old experience similar quality of life to that of other children their age."

Colver's team visited 818 children with cerebral palsy who were 8 to 12 years old. The children lived in England, Ireland, Northern Ireland, France, Sweden, Denmark, and Italy.

During in-home interviews, the children rated various aspects of their lives, including pain, psychological and physical well-being, autonomy, social acceptance, and relationships with their parents.

Most of the kids -- 61% -- were able to complete the surveys. The remaining 39% had more severe cerebral palsy and couldn't answer the survey questions.

Children With Cerebral Palsy

The children who finished the survey indicated that overall, their quality of life wasn't determined by their cerebral palsy.

There were three exceptions. Physical well-being got lower ratings from kids with physical disabilities. Those with intellectual disabilities reported poorer moods and emotions and less autonomy. Kids with difficulty speaking gave their relationships with their parents lower ratings.

But apart from those areas, cerebral palsy didn't appear to have a major impact on how the children felt about their lives.

Typical quality-of-life ratings were similar to those of European children without cerebral palsy who participated in another study two years earlier, Colver's team notes.

The study appears in The Lancet, along with an editorial by experts including Olaf Dammann, MD, of Tufts-New England Medical Center in Boston.

Dammann's team notes that the study may not reflect quality of life for children with severe cerebral palsy.

However, the editorialists write that the study's findings "offer reassurance" and "provide food for thought for clinicians who offer guidance to parents of newborn babies at risk of cerebral palsy."

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