B929 - Bladder Control in Bilateral Cerebral Palsy a Population-based Study - 01/01/1900

B number: 
Principal applicant name: 
Prof Gillian Baird (Guy's & St Thomas' Hospital, London, UK)
Dr Anne Wright (The Portland Hospital for Women and Children, UK)
Title of project: 
Bladder Control in Bilateral Cerebral Palsy: a Population-based Study.
Proposal summary: 

With regards to children with cerebral palsy, very little information about attainment of urinary continence is available. The long-term physical, psychosocial and financial burden of incontinence in the cerebral palsy patient is considerable and in order for the paediatrician to begin addressing these important issues further information regarding the normal attainment of bladder control in children with cerebral palsy has to be established. This is the aim of this study.


The original study:

The data in this study originate from a previously published population based study (Scrutton and Baird 1997) which established a cohort of children with bilateral cerebral palsy born from 1989 to 1992 (inclusive) to mothers resident at the time of birth within the geographically defined area of the South East Thames Regional Health Authority (SETRHA) in south east England in order to monitor the children's hip development up to the age of 5 years using serial hip X-rays. It is for this reason that children with hemiplegic cerebral palsy are not included. The South East Thames Health Region at the time had a population of 3.65 million with 205 958 live births during the study period. A comparison of epidemiological data between SETRHA and England and Wales showed similarities between the two. For original methods of recruitment, details of ethical permission and consent, and diagnosis of cerebral palsy the reader is referred to the original paper (Scrutton and Baird 1997).

Present study:

For the purposes of this study, a questionnaire containing details of the child's attainment of bowel and bladder control by day and night, as well as parental concerns or presence of abnormal bladder and bowel symptoms, was used. This questionnaire was administered by physiotherapists to the parents of the children sometime after their third birthdays together with other information required for the original study at that time. The parents/carers were asked to post the questionnaire back to the investigators in a self-addressed envelope. Almost all were returned between the third and fourth birthdays, although one was returned at 5 years. After 5 years of age, a visit was carried out by the original authors, mostly in the child's home together with the parents. A number of parameters were obtained during this visit including confirmation of the diagnosis of cerebral palsy, the nature of the motor disorder including distribution (quadriplegia, diplegia, double hemiplegia and paraplegia) and type (hypertonia, ataxia, involuntary movements, hypotonia and ataxic diplegia after Hagberg 1985), learning level (as ascertained from other medical or educational sources), severity of disability and the age of attainment of bladder and bowel control by day and night. For funding and practical reasons these visits were carried out between 7 to 9 years of age. A closing visit questionnaire, including further continence data was completed some time after the age of 14 years (up to age 19 years) in this cohort, in a similar manner to the above. Whilst the stated aim of this study is to establish the age of attainment of bladder control in subjects with cerebral palsy, data on bowel control have been analysed simultaneously for two reasons: availability and therefore ease of analysis together with bladder data, and the fact that bowel and bladder control are physiologically and developmentally linked, and have been shown by previous authors to follow each other sequentially (Stein and Susser 1967, Largo and Stutzle 1977, Crawford 1989).


Cerebral palsy has been taken to mean all non-progressive disorders of movement and posture caused by a defect or lesion in the brain by 15 months chronological age, and not part of another syndrome which has a motor component. Those with syndromes including a high risk of skeletal or joint anomalies and children whose disorder had no clinical trunk or lower-limb involvement were also excluded. Each child's paediatrician provided written confirmation of the diagnosis at 5 years of age.

Bladder and bowel control was defined as being reliably continent with socially acceptable toileting even if help was required.

Definitions of learning level, severity of disability and type (Hagberg 1989)/distribution of motor disorder are defined and classified according to the Gross Motor Function Classification System (GMFCS).


The results of bladder and bowel continence attainment will be presented in a longitudinal manner together with details of any abnormal patterns which will be discussed. The data collected at three years and eight years of age have already been analysed and analysis of the data available at 16-19 years of age is currently awaited. The only available control comparison group is a series of international studies which are for the large part retrospective, cross-sectional and not population based and neither are they collected from a British population with a similar birth date.

Date proposal received: 
Friday, 11 December, 2009
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 1 January, 1900
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