Cerebral Palsy (CP) is a key disability that affects a child’s movement and posture, and it is prevalent in Australia. CP is caused by abnormal brain development, which usually occurs before, during, or shortly after birth. The epidemiology of CP in Australia indicates that it has a significant impact on children’s lives. Therefore, this blog will examine the epidemiology of Cerebral Palsy in Australia, including risk factors, prevalence, and incidence rates.
Data from the Australian Cerebral Palsy Register reveals that there are over 34,000 people living with cerebral palsy in Australia. That is approximately one in every 500 children. Boys are more frequently affected than girls. It is reported that over five new cases are diagnosed every day, with most children receiving their diagnosis by the age of two. This high prevalence underscores the necessity for continued research in the area of CP in Australia.
Although no single cause has been identified for cerebral palsy worldwide, some risk factors in Australia are in evidence. Babies who are born prematurely have a greater risk of developing cerebral palsy, and it is estimated that 34% of children with CP in Australia were born severely prematurely at less than 32 weeks. For others, Cerebral Palsy is caused by abnormalities in brain, brain injuries, and environmental factors such as exposure to infections and pesticides. It should be noted that while some factors associated with the development of cerebral palsy cannot be controlled, others, such as access to antenatal and perinatal care, can offer a life-changing chance to intervene in disability.
Globally, the incidence of CP varies between 1.5 and 4 out of 1,000 births. In terms of incidence, over 700 children are born with CP in Australia each year. This figure represents approximately one-third of all major disability types in childhood. It is imperative that resource allocation and prioritization are evidence-based, and this data highlights the critical need for investment into research and intervention for children living with cerebral palsy.
There is considerable variation in the incidence of CP across different states and territories in Australia. Overall, the incidence rate is highest in South Australia, with an incidence of 3.2 out of 1,000 births, and then in Victoria at 2.6. Tasmania generally reports the lowest incidence rate at 1.7, while New South Wales and Queensland fall slightly above the national average of 1.9.
In conclusion, the epidemiology of cerebral palsy in Australia is an area that requires continued investment in research and intervention. The high prevalence and incidence rates indicate that this disability poses a significant burden on children and their families in Australia. Risk factors such as premature birth and brain injuries emphasise the need for early intervention and adequate antenatal and perinatal care. The variation in incidence rates across different states and territories requires further investigation. The knowledge generated from epidemiological research can be used to implement public health education on cerebral palsy prevention and management. Overall, this blog post has provided insights into the need for data-driven prioritization that can lead to informed decisions on appropriate allocation of resources and interventions for cerebral palsy in Australia.