Study: Premature Deaths Common among Children with Cerebral Palsy in Rural Areas

A new study conducted to estimate the mortality rate of children in Iganga-Mayuge, a rural region in Uganda to identify risk factors and causes of death has shown that children with cerebral palsy are more at risk of premature deaths.

The study titled “Excessive premature mortality among children with cerebral palsy in rural Uganda: A longitudinal, population-based study” revealed that as global mortality for children below 5 years of age has drastically decreased during the last couple of decades, the same applies to Uganda, where mortality in this age group has declined from 124 deaths per 1000 live births in 2006 to 90 per 1000 live births in 2011 and 64 per 1000 live births in 2016.

“This decrease has been attributed to anti-malarial interventions and breastfeeding, in addition to general socioeconomic development,” the study revealed.

However, child mortality remains high in the sub-Saharan Africa, especially among children with neuro-developmental disorders or epilepsy, whose mortality rate was reported 3 to 4 times higher than that of typically developing children.

Major findings show that Cerebral Palsy (CP) is the most common childhood motor disorder, with a prevalence of approximately 2 per 1000 children in high-income countries and 3 per 1000 children in low- and middle-income countries.

“CP comprises a range of impairments involving gross, fine and oral motor functions. These impairments can range from mild to severe requiring assistance with all activities, including eating and hygiene. Associated seeing, hearing, communication and cognitive impairments, as well as seizures, are also common,” the report indicates.

Researchers revealed that the risk of premature death was excessively high in children with CP in rural sub-Saharan Africa, especially in those with severe motor impairments or malnutrition.

“In this study, we demonstrated that children with CP living in a rural region of eastern Uganda have excessive premature mortality, with a 25-times higher risk of death, compared with general population children of the same age in the same region,” the report reads in part.


“In children with CP, the risk of death was particularly high in those with severe motor impairments and severe malnutrition, and females and older children tended to have higher relative risk of death, compared with the general population,” the researchers further pointed out.

They also advised that research on mortality and risk factors in children with developmental disabilities is required in low and middle-income countries where there is a lack of population-based information.

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