In a medical breakthrough, Australian researchers have discovered that hereditary blood clotting disorders increase the risk of cerebral palsy.
Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder that affects about one in 500 babies and results in co-ordination problems, and it was previously assumed to be caused by fetal distress, such as a lack of oxygen, during the birth process.
Researchers at the University of Adelaide analyzed blood samples from healthy babies and those with cerebral palsy and found those with the condition had a higher prevalence of thrombophilias, or blood clotting disorders.
The university's Professor Alastair MacLennan said fetal distress was only a symptom of cerebral palsy, not the cause. 'We now have evidence that certain hereditary clotting disorders appear to increase the risk of cerebral palsy,' Prof MacLennan said. He adds that it means that birthing problems, such as a lack of oxygen, may not be contributing factors.
The Professor hopes that in the future it may be possible to prevent cerebral palsy with immunization programs when it's due to infection, or even through genetic engineering when it's due to genetic abnormalities.