To determine the proportion of children with cerebral palsy (CP) who have cerebral and non-cerebral congenital malformations to understand their relationship.
Methods Data from 11 CP registries from the European Cerebral Palsy Database (SCPE) for children born during 1976–96 with non-acquired CP were reviewed and followed by a linkage study in three regions between a SCPE registry and a EUROCAT malformation registry for children born in 1991–8.
Results Database study: 547/4584 children (11.9%) with CP were reported to have a congenital malformation. The majority (8.6% of children with CP) had a cerebral malformation and 3.3% a non-cerebral congenital malformation. The most frequent types of congenital malformation were microcephaly and hydrocephaly.
Linkage Study 168 children with CP and a congenital malformation were identified among 1114 children with CP (15.1%). These CP registers had already recorded most of the congenital malformations (88.7%) before linkage. Cerebral malformations were reported in 8.6% of children with CP varying with CP type (p<0.001). The proportion of cerebral congenital malformation was significantly higher among children with CP with severe intellectual impairment (15.1%) or children born at term (12.8%). The rate of non-cerebral congenital malformation was 6.4%, higher than in the general population of births. This rate did not vary with CP type (p = 0.28), but was higher in preterm children with CP and severe intellectual impairment (13.7%).
Conclusion A significant proportion of children with CP have brain malformations presumed to be the cause. CP is also associated with non-cerebral malformations and the causal pathways underlying this association need further elucidation.