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Prevention of Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral Palsy Prevention
Measures of Cerebral Palsy prevention are increasingly possible today. Pregnant women are tested routinely for the Rh factor and, if Rh negative, they can be immunized within 72 hours after the birth (or after the pregnancy terminates) and thereby prevent adverse consequences of blood incompatibility in a subsequent pregnancy. If the woman has not been immunized, the consequences of blood incompatibility in the newborn can be prevented by exchange transfusion in the baby.
If a newborn baby has jaundice, this can be treated with phytotherapy (light therapy) in the hospital nursery. Immunization against measles for all women who have not had measles and are susceptible to becoming pregnant is an essential preventive measure.
Other preventive programs are directed towards the prevention of prematurity; reducing exposure of pregnant women to virus and other infections; recognition and treatment of bacterial infection of the maternal reproductive and urinary tracts; avoiding unnecessary exposure to X-rays, drugs and medications; and the control of diabetes, anemia and nutritional deficiencies.
Of great importance are optimal well being prior to conception, adequate prenatal care, and protecting infants from accidents or injury.
The best prescription for having a healthy baby is to have regular prenatal care and good nutrition, and to avoid smoking, alcohol consumption, and drug abuse. Other forms of prevention include:
Prevent head injuries by using child safety seats in automobiles and helmets when riding bicycles, skateboards, etc. Supervise young children closely during bathing and swimming. Prevent child abuse. Keep poisons out of reach.
Treat jaundice in newborns with phototherapy. Exposing jaundiced babies to special blue lights that break down bile pigments and prevent them from building up and causing brain damage. In rare cases, a blood transfusion may be necessary.
Identify potential Rh incompatibility in expectant mothers. Incompatible Rh factor usually is not problematic with first pregnancies, as the mother's body typically produces the unwanted antibodies only after delivery. A special serum given after each delivery can prevent the production of antibodies.
If antibodies develop during a first pregnancy, or if antibody production is not prevented, the developing baby is monitored closely. If necessary, a transfusion may be given to the infant in the womb or an exchange transfusion may be given after birth, removing and replacing a large volume of the infant's blood.
Be vaccinated against German measles (rubella) before becoming pregnant.
To prevent CP, prospective parents should follow these guidelines:
* Get regular prenatal care.
* Expectant mothers and, in some cases, expectant fathers should get a simple blood test to determine their Rh factor. An incompatibility between mother and child usually does not cause problems with the first pregnancy. And an immunization given to the mother after delivery of an Rh positive child can prevent problems for future pregnancies.
* Women should be immunized against rubella (German measles) before getting pregnant.
* Women who are expecting or who plan to become pregnant should try to avoid toxoplasmosis by not eating undercooked pork or lamb and by keeping away from cat litter boxes.
* Parents should follow safety precautions such as using child safety seats in vehicles to prevent head injury and having children wear safety equipment, such as helmets, for bike riding or other activities.
* Parents should seek treatment right away for a baby who is jaundiced. If phototherapy isn't effective, as in some severe cases, a special form of blood transfusion can correct the jaundiced condition.
The cause of cerebral palsy (CP) sometimes is not known. However, links have been identified between CP and certain conditions during pregnancy, birth, and early childhood. Some of these can be prevented; some cannot.
You can help prevent CP before and during your pregnancy by adopting and maintaining healthy habits.
* Eat nutritious foods.
* Do not smoke.
* Avoid exposure to harmful substances.
* See your health professional regularly.
Also, help prevent CP in your young child by minimizing your child's risk for sustaining a brain injury.
* Take measures to prevent accidents.
* Make sure you are familiar with the signs of jaundice in newborns.
* Know how to prevent lead poisoning.
* Keep your child away from people who have serious contagious illnesses, such as meningitis.
* Make sure your child's immunizations are up to date. For more information, see the topic Immunizations.
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