The potential for preventing cerebral palsy, a possibility drawn from Prof Martin Bax’s Clinical and MRI correlates of cerebral palsy: the European Cerebral Palsy Study of 2006 supported by the William Little Foundation, has already inspired work of some significance.

Over the last 3 years, nearly 80 research teams around the world have published work that builds understanding and provides insight that pushes us further towards this goal. However, this highlights an anomaly: the UK research community is significantly behind the curve, with UK researchers contributing to only 5 of these studies and leading in only one.

Our 2020 report Cerebral Palsy: Causes and Prevention reported that less than a quarter of one percent of UK medical research funding is related to cerebral palsy. Of that funding, just 0.3% of was spent on research aimed at preventing CP.

Taking place at the Royal Society of Medicine on 26th July, Preventing Cerebral Palsy will be the UK’s first medical research conference dedicated solely to this topic.  It will provide opportunities for leading practitioners from around the world to share cutting-edge discoveries, interactive learning opportunities and the UK’s first international forum to debate the future direction of prevention research.

Participants will include international specialists in epidemiology, neonatology/perinatology, obstetrics/gynaecology, imaging, nutrition, behavioural science.  The conference will be of particular relevance to senior and junior researchers and clinicians, NGOs and charities, research funders and medical research media.

Preventing Cerebral Palsy will effectively balance high-quality learning opportunities, through speaker presentations, expert panels, debates and opportunities for those of its wide-ranging audience able to attend in person to meet informally. 

We want this conference to act as a catalyst for the UK research community, alerting researchers to the potential for significant leaps forward in our understanding of CP prevention, inspiring new talent to join an already committed sector, encouraging funders to back new lines of enquiry and, ultimately, enabling the UK to contribute meaningfully to the pursuit of prevention of a condition that carries such an immense social and financial burden.