With new findings suggesting that genes play a significant role in cerebral palsy, researchers say that broader use of genetic testing in those with the condition may be warranted.

In a study of 115 children with cerebral palsy and their parents, researchers found that about 10 percent of these kids had copy number variations — or structural alterations to portions of their DNA — affecting genes deemed “clinically relevant” to their condition.

By comparison, scientists said that such genetic variations are found in less than 1 percent of the general population.

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“Our research suggests that there is a much stronger genetic component to cerebral palsy than previously suspected,” said Maryam Oskoui of McGill University in Montreal who led the study published this month in the journal Nature Communications.

The copy number variations identified in the children affected many different genes, researchers said, which may explain why cerebral palsy doesn’t present uniformly.

Oskoui said the presence of these genetic variations could influence how the body responds to environmental stressors.

The study builds on others in recent years that have pointed to stronger ties between genes and cerebral palsy. A study published earlier this year found that at least 14 percent of cerebral palsy cases could be caused by genetic mutations.

“In light of the findings, we suggest that genomic analyses be integrated into the standard of practice for diagnostic assessment of cerebral palsy,” said Stephen Scherer of The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto who worked on the latest research.

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