Children with Cerebral Palsy Face a Fivefold Increased Risk of ASD and a Double Risk of ADHD

April 22, 2024

New Research Suggests Links Are Due to Shared Early-Life Risk Factors Affecting Brain Development

A recent nationwide study has revealed a significant link between cerebral palsy and an increased risk of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention/deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children. Specifically, the research showed that children with cerebral palsy were found to have a fivefold higher risk of ASD and a doubled risk of ADHD compared to those without cerebral palsy, even after adjusting for various factors such as age, sex, and socioeconomic status. The authors suggest these associations are likely due to shared early-life risk factors affecting brain development, such as premature birth, maternal infection, and perinatal hypoxic-ischaemic conditions. The study, which was based on a large, diverse population sample, highlighted the importance of recognizing cerebral palsy as an early-life indicator for children at risk of developing ASD or ADHD. However, the study also noted certain limitations, including potential misreporting and recall bias in self-reported diagnoses, challenges in diagnosing ASD and ADHD in children with motor impairments, and changes in diagnostic criteria over time. Due to these issues, the authors call for further investigation to confirm and understand their findings.

Original Study

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