Survival and cerebral palsy in low birthweight infants: implications for perinatal care

Paediatr Perinat Epidemiol. 1992 Apr;6(2):298-310. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3016.1992.tb00769.x.


Whilst only about a third of all cerebral palsy occurs in children who had been of low birthweight, recent increases in the survival of low and very low birthweight infants have coincided with significant increases in the numbers of cerebral palsy children amongst them. This paper analyses data from the Western Australian Cerebral Palsy Register and from the Maternal and Child Health Research Data Base for stillbirths, neonatal deaths and survivors to address the issues of increased survival, cerebral palsy and timing of brain damage. The analysis is inconclusive but suggestive that both antenatal and postnatal complications are important in the increases in cerebral palsy in low birthweight infants. The good news is that this means that a certain proportion of postnatally damaged low birthweight survivors could possibly be prevented by better neonatal care. The bad news is that the remaining proportion have probably received their damage well before delivery and the possibilities for prevention are still remote. Further studies of low birthweight infants with cerebral palsy are urgently required. They should include antenatal factors, investigating the various aetiological pathways to preterm birth, randomised controlled trials of neonatal interventions and searching for better neonatal predictors of brain damage.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Birth Weight
  • Cerebral Palsy / epidemiology
  • Cerebral Palsy / mortality*
  • Cerebral Palsy / therapy
  • Fetal Death / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant Care*
  • Infant Mortality
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Registries / statistics & numerical data
  • Survival Rate
  • Western Australia / epidemiology