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Early Detection of Cerebral Palsy in NICU Graduates

January 14, 2022

Lurie Children’s is one of only six centers nationwide in the Cerebral Palsy Foundation’s Early Detection and Intervention Initiative. The multidisciplinary team at the hospital’s Early Childhood Clinic is using a screening protocol to identify infants at high risk for cerebral palsy at 3-6 months and follow closely to make definitive diagnoses in most patients at less than 1 year of age, as well as immediately connect them to needed services. Although some graduates of the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) are at increased risk for cerebral palsy, in the past they were commonly diagnosed after 18 months. Earlier diagnosis of cerebral palsy is important because newer studies show that earlier therapy is associated with better functional outcomes for these children. Led by neonatologist Raye-Ann O. deRegnier, MD, the team’s next steps are to increase academic and community partnerships to decrease delays in therapy initiation and to develop more effective types of therapy that can be initiated in very young infants.