The results, “Noncommunicable disease among adults with cerebral palsy,” were published in Neurology.
Cerebral palsy (CP) comprises a group of neurological disorders that affect posture and restrict movement. Despite treatment advances in recent years, CP patients still have lower survival rates compared with individuals who do not have the disorder.
“Several factors associated with CP may contribute to this widening gap in survival, including severity of motor impairments and presence of epilepsy, [intellectual disabilities], musculoskeletal
disorders, and mental health disorders. An elevated risk of noncommunicable disease (NCD, also known as chronic disease) among people with CP may also explain this widening gap,” the investigators said.
Although previous studies have shown that CP patients have greater risk of succumbing to chronic illnesses (e.g. heart disease, cancer, lung disease) compared with individuals from the general population, the prevalence and risk of such disorders among people living with CP is still unclear.
Now, researchers from the Queen Mary University of London set out to analyze and compare the incidence of different types of NCDs among adults with and without CP.
The matched cohort study involved 1,705 adults with CP and 5,115 age-, sex-, and general practice-matched adults without CP (controls).
Participants’ primary care data was extracted from the UK Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD), a research service that collects patient data from a network of general practices across the United Kingdom.
Statistical analyses were used to estimate and compare the risk associated with each NCD — heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and lung disease — in both groups.
Results showed that CP patients had a 75% increased risk of developing any type of NCD, compared with individuals from the general population who did not have CP.
From the four types of NCDs analyzed, researchers found that CP patients had a higher risk of developing heart diseases (1.76 times higher) and lung diseases (2.61 times higher) than controls. Conversely, they found no evidence suggesting the risk of cancer or type 2 diabetes was higher among individuals with CP compared with those who did not have CP.
Within heart and lung diseases, adjusted analyses also revealed that CP patients were more likely to have heart failure (2.62 times higher), stroke (5.53 times higher), asthma (2.24 times higher), hypertensive heart disease (chronic high blood pressure; 1.64 times higher) and ischemic heart disease (loss of blood supply to the heart; 2.32 times higher) than those who did not have CP.
“This study highlights the increased risk of potentially preventable NCDs among adults with CP. The results are largely consistent with previous evidence, which to date is primarily from U.S. populations,” the researchers stated. “Our results provide strong evidence that further research is needed to understand the causative mechanisms of this increased risk and to improve targeted interventions aimed at preventing NCDs among people with CP.”