Cerebral Palsy Effects Might Be Lessened By New Drug Treatment
CHICAGO, IL, June 11, 2012 /24-7PressRelease/ — Cerebral palsy is a lifelong disorder affecting about one out of 300 children in the United States. It characteristically affects movement control, causing muscles to stiffen or jerk. Often, people with this disorder move their limbs awkwardly, and other muscles in the body may be affected as well. Patients with cerebral palsy may also be affected cognitively. The range of severity of symptoms of cerebral palsy is variable…some people are completely dependent on others for every aspect of daily living, and may be confined to bed or wheelchairs, while others are able to function quite normally.
The cause of CP is damage or abnormal development in some part of the brain, usually occurring before or during birth, and occasionally in early childhood. Symptoms and severity vary depending on how much and which part of the brain is afflicted. People with cerebral palsy often rely on crutches or a wheelchair to get around. Some need medication to control seizures, and many need speech therapy. In some cases, cognitive development — as well as physical development — is impaired.
Preventing cerebral palsy and lessening its severity are important goals for improving millions of lives. Fortunately, recent research provides hope that a new drug treatment might limit the development of cerebral palsy, if administered early.
Is A New Cerebral Palsy Drug On The Horizon?
The cause of a child’s cerebral palsy is sometimes difficult to pinpoint. Doctors now believe that infections during pregnancy underlie many cases of this birth defect. Infections can cause inflammation in the brain, leading to damage in parts that control muscle function.
The new drug’s effectiveness was tested on newborn rabbits with a congenital disposition to a muscle disorder like cerebral palsy. The medication treated an inflammatory response in the rabbits’ brains, targeted to the proper part of the brain by combining the drug with nanomolecules that allowed it to reach specific brain cells. Rabbits treated with the drug showed much better ability to control their movements than untreated rabbits did. If it works as well in newborn humans, the drug shows promise for early treatment of brain damage caused by prenatal infections. That could make the impact of cerebral palsy much less severe.
Side effects of the drug and its effectiveness in humans have not yet been determined. Also, improving timely diagnosis of prenatal infection and subsequent inflammation is a part of the puzzle, because treatment must be administered right after birth to be effective.
Cerebral Palsy Drug Would Still Depend On Doctors
Aside from infection, many other factors, including, but not limited to both premature birth and delivery complications, can be contributing causes of cerebral palsy. Because some of these conditions are predictable and preventable, conscientious physicians must monitor women during pregnancy to be on the lookout for infection and premature labor. A failure to monitor can be devastating to the health of both the fetus and mother.
Diagnosing cerebral palsy early is important as well. Pediatric physicians should be on the lookout for unusual weakness or delayed physical development in babies. Starting therapy sooner rather than later should produce a better outcome, even though there is no cure for this condition.