Neurodevelopmental disorders in children to be discussed at PGI meet

The Advanced Pediatrics Centre, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research is organising the second PGI Neuro Pediatrics update on February 3. The theme for this year's CME (continuing medical education) is Pediatric Neurodevelopmental Disorders. Approximately 150 delegates from across the country will be participating in this conference. These include pediatric neurologists, paediatricians, physicians, and other health care professionals involved with managing children with disabilities. The faculty for the conference includes noted experts from Bombay, Delhi and Chandigarh. During this CME, the focus will be on the three most common developmental disorders in children: cerebral palsy, autism and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Till date, the department has helped in the rehabilitation of about 21,000 children suffering from the disorder in collaboration with Prayas, a rehabilitation center for disabled children since 1985, by providing outreach services. Over 5,000 cases have been registered. Cerebral palsy is a condition which results from abnormal brain development or injury to the brain. This can occur before, during, or after birth or during early childhood.

According to a study conducted by the department, overall, 2 per 1000 live born children develop cerebral palsy, while the prevalence is significantly higher in low birth weight babies, being nearly 60 per 1000 with those with weight between 1000-1500 grams. The study revealed that 50-60 per cent of children develop cerebral palsy due to complications during the delivery. 22 per cent of children acquire cerebral palsy due to some kind of infection in the brain whereas 16 per cent of the children develop cerebral palsy due to severe neonatal jaundice.

The impairment caused by cerebral palsy is manageable. In other words, treatment, therapy, surgery, medications and assistive technology can help maximize independence, reduce barriers, increase inclusion and thus lead to an enhanced quality of life.

Another disorder to be discussed at the CME is autism which is a lifelong developmental disorder that typically occurs in the first three years of life. A child with autism looks just like any other child, but has distinctive behavioural patterns. So far the causes of autism are not known, said Dr Pratibha Singhi, head of the neurology department, Advanced Pediatrics Centre, PGIMER. However, current research indicates that anything that can produce structural or functional damage to the central nervous system can also produce the condition of autism. The disorder may occur alone, or with accompanying problems such as mental retardation or seizures, she added.

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