Public Release: 

Adults with cerebral palsy more likely to have chronic health conditions

The JAMA Network Journals

Adults with cerebral palsy (CP) have higher odds for chronic health conditions such as asthma, hypertension and arthritis compared with adults without CP, according to a study in the December 1 issue of JAMA.

Adults with CP represent an increasing population whose health status and health care needs are poorly understood. Mortality records reveal that death due to ischemic heart disease and cancer is higher among adults with CP; however, there have been no national surveillance efforts to track disease risk in this population. Mark D. Peterson, Ph.D., M.S., of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and colleagues used data from 9 years (2002-2010) of the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) to estimate the rate of chronic conditions among adults with CP. The MEPS is an ongoing, nationally representative survey. Age-adjusted prevalence rates for 8 chronic conditions were evaluated in adults with and without CP: diabetes, asthma, hypertension, other heart conditions (including cardiovascular disease, heart attack, angina, and other cardiovascular conditions), stroke, emphysema, joint pain, and arthritis.

Of the 207,615 adults included in the study, 1,015 had CP. Age-adjusted prevalence rates of chronic conditions were significantly greater among adults with CP vs without CP, including diabetes (9 percent vs 6 percent, respectively), asthma (21 percent vs 9 percent), hypertension (30 percent vs 22 percent), other heart conditions (15 percent vs 9 percent), stroke (5 percent vs 2 percent), emphysema (4 percent vs 1 percent), joint pain (44 percent vs 28 percent), and arthritis (31 percent vs 17 percent). The adjusted odds ratios were significantly different for all conditions except diabetes. Age, sex, weight, physical disability, overall health, and physical activity were also associated with chronic conditions.

The authors write that the findings of this study raise "important questions about preventable health complications in this [CP] population."

"Accelerated functional losses are a concern in the aging CP population. A large percentage of individuals who were once mobile eventually stop ambulating due to fatigue, inefficiency of gait, and/or muscle and joint pain. The current findings demonstrated that level of mobility impairment was strongly associated with chronic conditions."

"Future efforts are needed to better understand the health care use associated with chronic conditions for persons with CP and to characterize the relationships among mobility impairments, sedentary lifestyles, and chronic conditions."

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(doi:10.1001/jama.2015.11025; Available pre-embargo to the media at http:/media.jamanetwork.com)

Editor's Note: Dr. Peterson's work was funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health. The authors have completed and submitted the ICMJE Form for Disclosure of Potential Conflicts of Interest and none were reported.

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