Scientists have published encouraging early results which suggest it may soon be possible to identify cerebral palsy with a simple blood test.
Researchers at Nemours, the University of Delaware, and Genome Profiling looked at how DNA modifications in blood cells could be used to distinguish infants with the condition compared to healthy individuals.
Cerebral palsy is among the most common life-limiting conditions to affect children in the UK. Figures show that around four in every 1,000 children are born with the disability, with symptoms ranging from poor coordination, muscle stiffness, weakness and tremors.
The condition isn’t usually discovered until around the age of two, meaning essential early treatment is often missed, limiting opportunities for children in later life.
However, the scientists said they were able to use the DNA modification technique to predict the presence of cerebral palsy in children aged two to five years old with an accuracy of 73 per cent.
“This blood test could be a game changer. The earlier the diagnosis, the earlier we can direct therapies at the child. Specifically, high intensity physical therapy and possibly early surgery to prevent more significant problems in the future, and hopefully improve overall function and quality of life,” said Wade Shrader, head of the Cerebral Palsy Center at Nemours.
For a closer look at the mechanisms used in the study, click here.