Heart-stabbing Pain to Motherhood

In medical practice, it is not uncommon to hear parents lament that a child of three years old is experiencing difficulty in maintaining balance when sitting, standing or walking. Difficulties in hearing and talking are even noticeable in some of these children. These clinical conditions are often associated with CEREBRAL PALSY also known as Little’s disease.

A child with cerebral palsy.

Cerebral palsy is a medical problem of posture and movement which is caused by PERMANENT and non-progressive insult to the developing brain. In the developing world, it is the commonest cause of physical handicap. About 50% of children attending neurologic clinic in Nigeria presents with features of cerebral palsy.

CAUSES OF CEREBRAL PALSY

  • Preterm babies
  • Birth asphyxia: – This is usually observed or suspected when a child does not cry/ breathe immediately at birth.
  • Neonatal jaundice: – Usually suspected when a child’s eyeballs and/ or skin are yellowish
  • Mother taking alcohol in pregnancy
  • Prolong convulsion
  • Meningitis
  • Excessive bleeding in pregnancy
  • Infection during pregnancy

CLINICAL FEATURES

  1. Difficulty in sitting, standing and walking inappropriate for age.
  2. Unsatisfactory report of development of the child by the caregiver.
  3. Persistent fisting at age above 2 months. This means that the child continues to clench his fist at age more than 2 months.
  4. Sialorrhea: Excessive saliva in the mouth to the point of drooling.

Other problems associated with cerebral palsy include:

  • Mental retardation
  • Deafness
  • Blindness
  • Hyperactivity

INVESTIGATION

Your child’s doctor might request for the following investigations:

CT scan/ MRI of the brain

Audiometry

Baseline EEG

TREATMENT

This condition is NOT curable. Therefore, it is best avoided when possible.

Management of this condition requires multi-disciplinary approach: –

  • Paediatric neurologist
  • Physiotherapist
  • Speech therapist
  • Paediatric nurse

HOW TO PREVENT CEREBRAL PALSY

  • In pregnancy, fever can lead to preterm labour hence, medical attention should be sought immediately.
  • Mothers should be observant enough to report yellowness of eyeball or skin within 24-48 hours of onset.
  • Any infection in a child can be complicated with meningitis. Fever, catarrh, cough, conjunctivitis, ear discharge, skin infection, sore throat etc should be reported in the hospital without delay.
  • Bleeding: Bleeding in pregnancy is a danger sign. Therefore, report to the hospital when noticed.

FINAL NOTES: Cerebral Palsy children or adults are by no means less human. They are integral part of the society demanding for sense of belonging…