Is There a Link Between Cerebral Palsy and Dementia?

Sarfaroj Khan 


February 01, 2021


  • This study found no definitive link between cerebral palsy (CP) and dementia.

  • However, the risk of dementia may be greater in patients with CP and comorbidities.

Why this matters

  • This is the first study to assess the direct risk of dementia in patients with CP.

  • Further studies are required to confirm this finding and determine which specific comorbidities may drive the association between CP and dementia.

Study details

  • A retrospective study of 1703 adults with CP and 5109 matched control participants from the Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD) database and linked Hospital Episode Statistics (mean age, 33.30 years; 46.8% female).

  • Primary outcome: new diagnosis of dementia during the follow-up period.

  • Funding: Brunel University London.

Key results

  • Overall, 53 (1.04%; median follow-up, 10.95 years) and 19 (1.12%; median follow-up, 7.15 years) people from the control and CP groups, respectively, were diagnosed with dementia.

  • People with CP had an increased risk of dementia vs controls (HR, 2.69; 95% CI, 1.44-5.00; P=.002).

  • However, this association attenuated after adjusting for CP-related comorbidities (sensory impairment, intellectual disability and epilepsy) (adjusted HR [aHR], 1.92; 95% CI, 0.92-4.02; P=.08) and other complications (aHR, 1.76; 95% CI, 0.73-4.25; P=.21).


  • Retrospective design.

  • Small number of people developing dementia limits generalisability and statistical inferences.

  • CP and dementia subtypes were not considered.


Smith KJ, Peterson MD, Victor C, Ryan JM. Risk of dementia in adults with cerebral palsy: a matched cohort study using general practice data. BMJ Open. 2021;11(1):e042652. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2020-042652. PMID: 33495255 View abstract

This clinical summary originally appeared on Univadis, part of the Medscape Professional Network.


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