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Babies Born Late May Face Small Cerebral Palsy Risk
Date:8/31/2010

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Aug. 31 (HealthDay News) -- Infants born preterm or later than term are at slightly greater risk of developing cerebral palsy, Norwegian researchers report.

It has been known that premature birth is associated with an increased risk of cerebral palsy, but this is one of the first studies that has linked the neurological condition with past-term birth, the researchers noted, although that increased risk is still very small.

"We have to discern between relative risk and absolute risk," said lead researcher Dr. Dag Moster, a consultant neonatologist at the University of Bergen.

"Even though there are statistical differences in the relative risks, it is important to emphasize that the absolute risk is still very low and the vast majority of children being born some weeks away from 40 weeks will not develop cerebral palsy," he said.

It would be hasty to recommend intervention on delivery time based on this study because women having a normal delivery outside 40 weeks still face a very small risk that their child will develop cerebral palsy, Moster added.

The report is published in the Sept. 1 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

For the study, Moster's group looked at the risk of cerebral palsy among 1,682,441 children born from 1967-2001 at 37 through 44 weeks and who had no congenital anomalies (birth defects). The data came from the Medical Birth Registry of Norway, and researchers tracked the children through 2005 by linking to other national data banks.

Among those born past term, 1,938 developed cerebral palsy, the researchers found.

Infants born at 40 weeks had the lowest risk for developing cerebral palsy, compared with those born earlier or later, Moster's team added.

For infants born at 37 weeks, the risk for cerebral palsy was increased 90 percent. At 38 weeks, the risk dropped to 30 percent. Bu
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