While it is not yet routine, the use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is supported in the gathered evidence when cerebral palsy is suspected. Additionally, MRI is preferred over computerized tomography (CT). Metabolic and genetic studies need not be done routinely, according to the guideline, unless the cause of the brain's abnormality isn't evident from the MRI or by clinical history and examination. An early diagnosis helps the child's parent or caregiver and their physician understand the cause of the disorder, as well as make informed decisions on a treatment plan.
Evidence also suggests that children diagnosed with cerebral palsy should be routinely examined for other related disorders.
Stephen Ashwal, MD, Loma Linda University of Medicine, Loma Linda, CA, who was a principal author along with Barry Russman, MD, Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, OR, said the guideline recommendations can be helpful to patients and their families. "Because children with cerebral palsy often have other conditions such as mental retardation, vision and hearing impairments, speech and language disorders and chewing and swallowing disorders, the initial assessment should include screening for these associated conditions," according to Ashwal.
Cerebral palsy, a disorder affecting posture and movement due to a lesion in the developing brain, is relatively common. It occurs in about 2 to 2.5 births per 1,000 worldwide. In the United States, about 10,000 babies are born annually with cerebral palsy.