According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 1 in every 300 children has cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy is caused by injury to the brain, often occurring while a baby was still in the womb, during delivery or within the first few years of life. Although there is currently no cure, scientists are hopeful that a new drug may offer hope to children diagnosed with CP.
There is a small window, researchers believe, up to and shortly after birth during which an injured brain can be treated, minimizing the effects of cerebral palsy. Researchers focused on one cause of cerebral palsy - a bacterial infection in the mother's womb during pregnancy. The infection can cause the baby's brain to become inflamed, which can lead to brain damage.
If doctors are able to lower or stop the baby's brain from becoming inflamed, stopping the inflammation from killing brain cells, researchers hope that the effect of cerebral palsy on a child's motor functions will decrease. But that means that doctors must be able to get the anti-inflammatory medication to the right part of the brain as soon after birth as possible.
The initial study was conducted on rabbits that had a cerebral-palsy like condition. Drugs were administered to the rabbits one day after birth. At day 5, rabbits that received the drug, rather than the placebo, appeared to move almost as well as healthy rabbits. Rabbits with the CP-like condition that were given the placebo showed no signs of improvement.
More information is needed to determine whether the results of the study would have lasting implications in minimizing the effects of cerebral palsy as well as whether humans would have an experience similar to the rabbits. Developmental delays related to cerebral palsy were not the focus of this particular study.
Source: Fox News, "Cerebral palsy drug may offer hope for treatment," Rachel Rettner, April 19, 2012