Mediators of the association between pre-eclampsia and cerebral palsy: population based cohort study

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Abstract

Objective

To test the hypothesis that pre-eclampsia is a risk factor for cerebral palsy mediated through preterm birth and being born small for gestational age.

Design

Population based cohort study.

Setting

Clinical data from the Norwegian Cerebral Palsy Registry were linked with perinatal data prospectively recorded by the Medical Birth Registry of Norway.

Participants

All singleton babies who survived the neonatal period during 1996-2006 (849 children with cerebral palsy and 616 658 control children).

Main outcome measures

Cerebral palsy and cerebral palsy subtypes.

Results

Children exposed to pre-eclampsia had an excess risk of cerebral palsy (unadjusted odds ratio 2.5, 95% confidence interval 2.0 to 3.2) compared with unexposed children. Among children born at term (≥37 weeks), exposure to pre-eclampsia was not associated with an excess risk of cerebral palsy in babies not born small for gestational age (1.2, 0.7 to 2.0), whereas children exposed to pre-eclampsia and born small for gestational age had a significantly increased risk of cerebral palsy (3.2, 1.5 to 6.7). Non-small for gestational age babies born very preterm (<32 weeks) and exposed to pre-eclampsia had a reduced risk of cerebral palsy compared with unexposed children born at the same gestational age (0.5, 0.3 to 0.8), although the risk was not statistically significantly reduced among children exposed to pre-eclampsia and born small for gestational age (0.7, 0.4 to 1.3). Exposure to pre-eclampsia was not associated with a specific cerebral palsy subtype.

Conclusions

Exposure to pre-eclampsia was associated with an increased risk of cerebral palsy, and this association was mediated through the children being born preterm or small for gestational age, or both. Among children born at term, pre-eclampsia was a risk factor for cerebral palsy only when the children were small for gestational age.

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