The present paper aims to analyze trends over time in prevalence of cerebral palsy of post-neonatal origin, to investigate whether changes are similar according to severity and to describe the disability profile by etiology. Post-neonatal cases, birth years 1976 to 1998, were identified from the Surveillance of Cerebral Palsy in Europe collaboration (19 population-based registries). A recognized causal event occurring between 28 days and 24 months of age was considered to define the cases. Trends in prevalence were explored using graphical methods (Lowess and Cusum control chart) and modeled with negative binomial regressions. Over the study period, 404 cases were identified as post-neonatal cases (5.5% of the total). Mean prevalence rate was 1.20 per 10,000 live births (95% CI [1.08-1.31]). A significant downward trend was observed (p=0.001), with an accentuated decrease in the 1990 s. The prevalence of severe cases which account for around one third of the total also significantly decreased over time (p<0.001). In 46% of cases, an infectious aetiology was reported; the corresponding prevalence significantly decreased since 1989. No significant decrease was observed for the rate of cases due to a vascular episode or of traumatic origin. Our results emphasize the need of large population-based surveillance systems to reliably monitor trends in prevalence in rare subgroups of children like those with acquired cerebral palsy. The decrease of the overall prevalence as well as those of the most severe cases may be partly due to public health actions targeted to prevent such events.
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