Since the 1950s, the prevalence of cerebral palsy (CP) has fluctuated. During the early 1950s, the prevalence of CP was reported to be between 2 and 2.5 per 1000 live births. A 1996 analysis of the periods between 1954-1958 and 1967-1970 reported the prevalence of CP decreased 40% with concurrent improvements in access to obstetrical and pediatric care as reported by Hagberg and Hagberg. During the period from 1970 to 1982, the prevalence once again increased to the rate of the 1950s. Apparent advancements in medical technology, allowing infants to survive at a lower

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gestational age and weight, accounted for this rebound in prevalence of reported cases.

In recent years, the prevalence of CP among live births in developed countries has continued to increase, with the exception of normal birth weight infants, for whom prevalence rates have remained stable. Overall, prevalence rates between 1.06 and 2.5 per 1000 children have been reported. This increase in the existing number of cases has been attributed to increased survival rates of preterm, low-birth-weight infants. A 1996 study by Suzuki et al. reported an increase in prevalance of 9-fold among low-birth-weight infants (1500-2499 g) and an increase of 41-fold among very low-birth-weight infants (<1500 g). In 1996, Pharoah et al. reported an increase in prevalence of CP among infants weighing less than 1000 g with low-birth-weight babies (< 2499 g) accounting for 50% of CP cases. Additionally, perinatal mortality appears to be on the decline, with surviving babies having a higher risk for cerebral damage.

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