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Saturday, January 07, 2006

Viral Infections at Birth Linked to Brain Damage, Study Shows

Exposure to viral infections such as herpes shortly before and after birth are associated with brain damage and cerebral palsy, according to a study published in tomorrow's issue of the British Medical Journal.

Infections with some herpes viruses double the risk of cerebral palsy, said Catherine Gibson, a research fellow at the Women's and Children's Hospital in Adelaide, Australia. Gibson compared 443 babies with cerebral palsy to 883 without.

"Herpes group B nucleic acids were found more often in neonatal blood spots of babies who were diagnosed subsequently to have cerebral palsy," Gibson said.

Cerebral palsy are brain injuries acquired during birth that lead to limited motor, speech and learning skills. Babies who are premature or prone to infections are also more likely to suffer brain damage, Gibson said.


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