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Risk of Depression and Anxiety in Adults With Cerebral Palsy.

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posted on 24.03.2022, 12:38 authored by Kimberley J. Smith, Mark D. Peterson, Neil E. O'Connell, Christina Victor, Silvia Liverani, Nana Anokye, Jennifer RyanJennifer Ryan

Importance: Cerebral palsy (CP) is considered a pediatric condition despite most individuals with CP living into adulthood. Thus, there is a lack of evidence in adults with CP, which includes a paucity of research examining mental health in this population.

Objectives: To determine the risk of depression and anxiety in adults with CP compared with an age-, sex-, and practice-matched reference group of adults without CP, using primary care data.

Design, Setting, and Participants: Retrospective longitudinal cohort study set in UK primary care. Data were analyzed using Cox proportional hazards regression analyses adjusted for chronic conditions and visits to their physician. The study period ran from January 1987 to November 2015. Data of entry into the study ranged from January 1987 to September 2015. Data for 1705 adults 18 years or older with CP and 5115 matched adults without CP were extracted. Cerebral palsy was identified using diagnostic codes, and each person with CP was compared with 3 age-, sex-, and practice-matched controls.

Exposures: Diagnosis of CP, with a second analysis accounting for comorbidity of intellectual disability (ID).

Main Outcomes and Measures: Time to diagnosis for depression or anxiety following the date of entry into the study in adults with CP (with and without ID) compared with matched controls.

Results: The mean (SD) age of the 1705 patients with CP and the 5115 adults without CP was 33.3 (15.5) years, and 798 participants (46.8%) were women. Individuals with CP had an increased adjusted hazard of depression (hazard ratio [HR], 1.28; 95% CI, 1.09-1.51) and anxiety (HR, 1.40; 95% CI, 1.21-1.63) compared with the matched reference group. When we accounted for ID comorbidity, there were 363 adults with CP who also had ID (mean [SD] age, 32.1 [13.2] years; 159 women [47.6%]) and 1342 adults with CP who did not have ID (mean [SD] age, 33.6 [16.1] years; 639 women [43.8%]). Only those individuals with CP and no comorbid ID had a higher risk of incident depression (HR, 1.44; 95% CI, 1.20-1.72) and anxiety (HR, 1.55; 95% CI, 1.28-1.87) than their matched controls.

Conclusions and Relevance: Adults with CP have an increased risk of depression or anxiety. In particular, these results indicate that this association is driven largely by those individuals with CP with no co-occurring ID. Future work is needed in community-based samples to fully elucidate the causal mechanisms driving these associations.


Research Catalyst Award from Brunel University London.



The original article is available at https://jamanetwork.com

Published Citation

Smith KJ, Peterson MD, O'Connell NE, Victor C, Liverani S, Anokye N, Ryan JM. Risk of Depression and Anxiety in Adults With Cerebral Palsy. JAMA Neurology. 2019;76(3):294-300

Publication Date


PubMed ID



  • Public Health and Epidemiology


American Medical Association


  • Published Version (Version of Record)