Research on babies and children in South Carolina reveals decline in the incidence of cerebral palsy

In Australia and Europe, researchers have been able to use population-based registries to extract data on the incidence of cerebral palsy (CP) over time. However, the U.S. does not have a similar registry, and therefore research on the prevalence of cerebral palsy in American babies and children has produced more nebulous results. This lack of a quality dataset may be due to our decentralized medical systems and large population sizes, among other factors (1).

Although cerebral palsy is the most common type of motor disorder in children, this condition can often be prevented with proper prenatal, obstetrical, and neonatal care. Cerebral palsy often stems from oxygen deprivation or excessive force to a baby’s head around the time of birth. In many cases, these types of birth injuries are associated with inadequate care. Changes in hospital policies, doctor training, and available treatments can reduce rates of birth injuries and subsequent cerebral palsy. However, in order to glean information on which practices help to prevent cerebral palsy, it is crucial to gather population data on the incidence of cerebral palsy and compare that to changes in care.

Study on birth cohorts in South Carolina little boy in dandelions 756434 1920

Qing Li and colleagues recently published the results of a study (2) on rates of cerebral palsy in South Carolina. Li et al. used data from Medicaid, hospital discharges, and the state Department of Disabilities and Special Needs program to evaluate changes in the incidence of cerebral palsy diagnosis prior to age four.

They found that the prevalence of cerebral palsy decreased significantly between 1996 and 2006 (from 3.6 to 2.1 per 1000 live births). However, important health disparities persisted. Male and non-hispanic black children both continued to have higher rates of cerebral palsy than the general population. Low and very low birth weight infants were also at a much higher risk of cerebral palsy. Many low birth weight (LBW) and very low birth weight (VLBW) infants are also born early; premature birth is an important risk factor for cerebral palsy in South Carolina and worldwide. Li et al. also found that many of the children who were diagnosed with cerebral palsy (51%) were dependent on Medicaid.

The authors note that, “Further research should validate this methodology, including early deaths, and develop broad surveillance systems to inform clinical practices and etiology.”

Cerebral palsy and birth injury legal cases

In many cases, cerebral palsy stems from birth injuries which could have been prevented with proper care. If a medical professional or organization provided inadequate care during pregnancy, birth, or the neonatal period, and your child has cerebral palsy, you may be eligible for compensation through a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Please reach out to the birth injury/neonatal malpractice attorneys at ABC Law Centers today for a free discussion of your child’s case. We have helped children throughout the country obtain compensation for lifelong treatment, therapy, and a secure future. No fees are ever paid to our firm unless we win your case.


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Related reading


  1. Figueiredo, M. (2018, November 30). Occurrence of Cerebral Palsy in South Carolina Declined from 1996 to 2009. Retrieved December 21, 2018, from
  2. Li, Q., Kinsman, S. L., Jenkins, D. D., Hovell, M. F., & Ryan, R. M. (2018). Decreasing prevalence of cerebral palsy in birth cohorts in South Carolina using Medicaid, disability service, and hospital discharge data, 1996 to 2009. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology.

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