Emphasising the need for good peri-natal care, Vetta Vedanarayana from the department of paediatrics, neurology and pathology at the University Medical Centre, Mississippi, said, “Ensuring healthy pregnancy, improved neonatal care and immunisations are critical to prevent childhood neurological diseases.”

In a majority of cases, cerebral palsy is a consequence of premature birth, which can occur because of improper care during pregnancy, stress, teenage pregnancies and a number of other factors, he said, delivering the 12 M.V. Arunachalam Endowment Lectureon Sunday.

Even though other factors, like genetics, can determine whether a child will have neurological problems, good pre- and post-natal care, as well as proper immunisation, can play a great role in preventing cerebral palsy and certain other neurological diseases.

For children with neurological problems, the issues not only affect a child’s independence and academic performance, but when there are fine motor impediments like mental illness, multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy get worse as the child ages, resulting in very high socio-economic costs.

Speaking of stem cell therapy, which has a lot of potential to help improve the condition of people with neurological conditions, the modality of delivering the stem cells to a patient has not yet been fully worked out, said Mr. Vedanarayana.

At present, the major treatments used for patients with cerebral palsy are to improve their mobility. Intrathecal Baclofen Therapy, where medicines are injected into the spinal cord, and selective dorsal root rhizotomy are used to help patients improve movement in their limbs. There are a number of alternate therapies too. Holistic care, however, is the most important thing for any person with neurological disorders, he said.

A. Vellayan, executive chairman of Murugappa Group, welcomed the gathering, and trustee of the Vellayan Chettiar Trust delivered the presidential address. The lecture was organised by Neurokrish, a neuropsychiatry group, and Trimed, a chain of integrative medical therapy centres.

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