Pregnant Women cautioned against cerebral palsy

Dr Naa Ashiley Vanderpuye, a Medical Director with the International Health Care Centre (IHCC) at Haatso in Accra, has cautioned women not to expose their pregnancies to hazardous activities that could make their babies develop cerebral palsy.

The Medical Director who also doubles as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of West Africa AIDS Foundation (WAAF) gave the caution in an interview with The Spectator last week in Accra.

Cerebral palsy she said was actually a description of disability in terms of movement and motoric skills of a child.

She said cerebral palsy occurred mostly when there was impairment in the muscle of a child causing a neurological disorder which damaged the brain of infants.

The disease, Dr Vanderpuye stressed could occur when the child was in the womb or as a result of infections associated with pregnancies and could also occur when a child was born shortly after.

Dr Vanderpuye said the neurological disorder could be caused by any complication associated with child birth at the health facility.

Dr Vanderpuye also told The Spectator that genetic disorders and congenital conditions could be the causes of cerebral palsy.

“Exposure of a baby to things that endangerits health and even during antenatal stages causes cerebral palsy”, the Medical Director said.

She said the cause of the disease was sometimes unknown.

“There are so many factors that could affect the development of a pregnancy which could easily lead to brain damage,” she said.

Dr Vanderpuye emphatically stated that cerebral palsy could be prevented but a pregnant mother could lower the risk of having a child with cerebral palsy by not drinking, smoking and doing anything contrary to a physician advice during antenatal period.

She admonished pregnant women to always ensure that they have a safe and a normal pregnancy to avoid complications.

Dr Vanderpuye added that when pregnant women were in labour anddeprived of immediate medical attention, the baby, too, deprived of oxygen at birth could leadto cerebral palsy.


Symptoms of cerebral palsy could be broad, as a child may have an abnormal movement.Their tone of muscles, she said, created stiffness which did not aid movement.

Persons with cerebral palsy also have difficulties controlling muscle movement with affected babies having delayed milestone (sitting – crawling –walking).

Dr Vanderpuye noted that, the severity of cerebral palsy determined the extent of the symptoms known as Spastic Quadriplegra in medical terms.

Cerebral palsy, she said came in degrees of severity which could be mild, severe and very severe.


“If you detect a child is not performing a good motoric function, take the child to a health facility to be treated,” Dr Vanderpuye advised.

The Medical Director however said, “It is very difficult to detect the exact problem of a child at the baby stage, since they cannot tell a mother of their problems, but as a mother, you must suspect there is something wrong with a baby based on its signs and feelings (the movement of the baby).”


She said the treatment of the disease was actually done symptomatically.

Dr Naa Vanderpuye said cerebral palsy could be managed through physiotherapy, among other activities.

According to her, there are medications available which might be prescribed by a Physician to relax the muscles by improving the quality of the child’s life.

She said surgeries such as dislocation and muscle release, could also be done on persons suffering from cerebral palsy.


She said cerebral palsy could develop into seizures, but not develop into epilepsy and that anti-seizures medicine could be given to persons suffering from this disorder.


Dr Vanderpuye admonished all women who are pregnant to ensure that they seek the services of qualified medical personnel and also take antenatal care very serious.

The Medical Director said persons with genetic cerebral palsy in their family should make it known to their Physicians,, when pregnant.

She again advised pregnant women to eat well and avoid the intake of alcohol, shun smoking during pregnancy, and have enough rest.

She further cautioned pregnant women to stay away from self-medication which was very detrimental to their health and appealed to them to be at the health facility on timewhen in labour to be attended to by a health professional, in order to avoid complications that could lead to cerebral palsy.

By Alfred Nii Arday Ankrah.

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