New research suggests that individuals with cerebral palsy should be encouraged to undergo genetic testing much like those with other types of developmental disabilities.

Currently, whole genome or exome sequencing is recommended for those with neurodevelopmental disorders including autism and intellectual disability. But the same testing is not advised for people with cerebral palsy unless they are also diagnosed with another condition that qualifies.

However, researchers behind a review of 13 studies published between 2013 and 2022 say that this approach should be reconsidered.

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Among the 2,612 people with cerebral palsy included in the studies, genetic testing yielded answers for 31.1% of them, according to findings published online this month in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

That’s a similar response rate to what’s seen for genetic testing in those with other neurodevelopmental disorders, the researchers said, and supports adding cerebral palsy to the list of diagnoses for which the testing is warranted.

“Waiting for a co-occurring diagnosis of intellectual disability or autism in an individual with cerebral palsy to consider genetic testing is a missed opportunity to improve clinical outcomes,” said Dr. Andres Moreno De Luca, a clinical neuroradiologist at Geisinger Health System in Danville, Pa. who worked on the study. “Since motor disorders like cerebral palsy can be identified earlier than other neurodevelopmental disorders, genetic testing for people with cerebral palsy may allow for quicker identification of genetic changes and facilitate early interventions and potential treatment.”

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