Behavioural and emotional symptoms of preschool children with cerebral palsy: a population-based study

Dev Med Child Neurol. 2010 Nov;52(11):1056-61. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8749.2010.03698.x.


Aim: To describe behavioural and emotional symptoms among Icelandic preschool children with cerebral palsy (CP).

Method: Children with congenital CP, assessed with the Child Behavior Checklist/1½-5 (CBCL/1½-5) and Caregiver-Teacher Report Form (C-TRF), were enrolled in the study. A comparison group was recruited from the general population. Thirty-six children (53% males) with CP were assessed at a mean age of 4 years 11 months (SD 5 mo, range 4-6 y); 26 (72%) had bilateral distribution of symptoms and 32 (89%) had spastic CP. Thirty (83%) were at Gross Motor Function Classification System levels I or II and six at levels III or IV. For comparison, 110 (43% males) and 120 (48% males) children were assessed with the CBCL/1½-5 and the C-TRF respectively, at a mean age of 4 years 6 months (SD 6 mo, range 4-6 y).

Results: Sixteen children (48%) with CP had high scores on total problems scale of the CBCL/1½-5 and 20 (65%) on the C-TRF compared with 18% of the comparison group, both on the CBCL/1½-5 and the C-TRF (p<0.001). Children with CP had higher scores on all subscales of the CBCL/1½-5 and the C-TRF, except somatic complaints. Attention difficulties, withdrawn, aggressive behaviour, and anxious/depressed symptoms were most pronounced among children with CP.

Interpretation: A large proportion of preschool children with CP have substantial behavioural and emotional difficulties, which need to be addressed in their treatment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cerebral Palsy / epidemiology*
  • Cerebral Palsy / psychology*
  • Child
  • Child Behavior Disorders / diagnosis
  • Child Behavior Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Community Health Planning
  • Emotions*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Iceland / epidemiology
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Medical Records / statistics & numerical data
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Statistics, Nonparametric