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Perinatal Risk and Cerebral Palsy

Robert J. Sokol, MD
JAMA. 1984;251(14):1868-1869. doi:10.1001/jama.1984.03340380050024.
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A relationship between perinatal risk, ie, obstetric complications, and cerebral palsy has been documented for more than 120 years.1 Interest in this association increased in the mid-20th century and was one of the factors that produced the Collaborative Project, for which data were collected at 12 teaching hospitals from 1959 to 1966, ie, about 20 years ago. The resulting data base continues to yield interesting and useful findings, such as those from the study in this issue of The Journal by Nelson and Ellenberg.2 Of the numerous observations reported by these authors, two seem to be key findings.

  1. Among infants of normal birth weight (>2,500 g), there was a relatively low risk for cerebral palsy, regardless of obstetric complications, as long as the five-minute Apgar score was normal (≥7). Similarly, the risk for cerebral palsy was not particularly high with a very low five-minute Apgar score (≤3),


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