Published: 2017-10-26 23:38 | Updated: 2017-10-26 23:44

Cerebral palsy is more common and has higher mortality in Uganda than in high income countries

The underlying brain injury often occurs after the first month after birth, probably caused by malaria, a new population based study by researchers at Karolinska Institutet and Makerere University in Kampala reports. The study, which is published in The Lancet Global Health, is the largest of its kind on cerebral palsy in Africa.

“Children with developmental disabilities are neglected and discriminated against in many countries, where they live under difficult circumstances,” says principal investigator Professor Hans Forssberg at the Department of Women’s and Children’s Health. “A first step towards changing this is to show that children with disabilities exist and how common different neurodevelopmental conditions are.”

The researchers used a health and demographic surveillance system (HDSS) that Karolinska Institutet helped to devise with Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda, with support from SIDA. Since 2005, field workers have been gathering vital data, e.g. on birth, death and migration for all people living in a rural part of eastern Uganda. The round of data collection that took place in 2015 included screening for cerebral palsy in over 30,000 children.