Adults With Cerebral Palsy Develop Chronic Respiratory Disease

Adults with cerebral palsy are about twice as likely to develop cardiovascular disease and chronic respiratory disease compare to adults without cerebral palsy, according to a new study led by RCSI (Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland) and Brunel University London. The study compared 1,700 adults with cerebral palsy and 5,000 adults without cerebral palsy to identify how many developed non-infectious diseases, such as asthma or stroke. The research is publish in the current edition of Neurology.

Patients with cerebral palsy were overall 75% more likely to have a non-communicable disease. After adjusting for other variables, the study found that adults with cerebral palsy were around twice as likely to develop cardiovascular disease and chronic respiratory disease, such as asthma, but not more likely to develop diabetes or cancer.

Chronic respiratory disease

Adults with cerebral palsy were specifically 2.6 times more likely to develop heart failure; 5.5 times more likely to have a stroke; 2.2 times more likely to develop asthma, 1.6 times more likely to develop hypertension and 2.3 times more likely to develop ischaemic heart disease. Globally, approximately 17 million people have cerebral palsy. Although cerebral palsy was historically considered a pediatric condition; so the majority of children with cerebral palsy now survive into adulthood; also many adults with cerebral palsy have a near normal life expectancy.

Cerebral palsy is not a progressive condition. However, at least a quarter of young adults report that their ability to walk gets worse; which may contribute to the development of chronic health conditions. Until recently, they did not know much about the consequences of aging with cerebral palsy. Our findings highlight the need for further research into the management of non-communicable diseases in this population.

Secondary conditions with age

Recent clinical guidelines for adults with cerebral palsy in the UK recommend; so that pathways need to be develop that allow adults with cerebral palsy access to a multidisciplinary team. However, adults with cerebral palsy in Ireland lack access to co-ordinate multidisciplinary support.” Jennifer Ryan, study’s lead author and StAR Research Lecturer at RCSI and Senior Lecturer at Brunel University London.

Being able to access health professionals, such as physiotherapists; orthopedic surgeons and neurologists with knowledge of cerebral palsy early; so may slow deterioration in the patient’s function; also prevent development of secondary conditions with age. Adults with CP had increased risk of noncommunicable disease; hence specifically cardiovascular and respiratory disease. These findings highlight the need for clinical vigilance regarding identification of noncommunicable disease in people with CP and further research into the etiology and management of noncommunicable disease in this population.