newborn baby in an incubator in hospital

World Prematurity Day 2023

Supporting young lives through early intervention

World Prematurity Day 2023 is a day of celebration and reflection, a day to honour the extraordinary journey of those born prematurely and living with cerebral palsy. It’s also a day to recognise the unwavering support from their families, friends, and healthcare professionals who stand by their side.  

Premature birth is a known risk factor for cerebral palsy. Low birth weight is considered to increase the likelihood of a child developing cerebral palsy as often there can be brain complications that can cause lasting brain damage associated with CP.  

Despite being the most common physical disability in childhood, affecting 34,000 Australians, there is no universal screening program to identify children with CP. More than 50% of children aren’t diagnosed until over 12 months of age, missing out on crucial early intervention that can make a lifetime of difference to their movement, cognition and communication abilities. 

Our team of researchers, therapists and innovators are part of a global network making breakthroughs in early diagnosis of CP.   

Dr Cathy Morgan, Senior Research Fellow at Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Institute, emphasises the importance of early diagnosis and intervention, “The key is early assessment and tailored therapy. With the right support, children with cerebral palsy can make remarkable progress.” 

CPA launched the first Early Diagnosis Clinic in Prairiewood, western Sydney, five years ago, a second at Sydney Children’s Hospital at Randwick in 2021 and third in 2022, the Hunter Early Diagnosis Clinic – providing a vital regional service to 30% of children with CP who live outside of major urban centres.  

Since the launch of the first clinic in 2018, more than 400 infants have been supported by CPA, fast-tracked into early intervention therapy programs and offered ongoing support with regular check-ups. The clinics are staffed by expert multi-disciplinary teams including paediatric neurologists, social workers, therapists and speech pathologists. 

Living with cerebral palsy, a neurological disorder that affects muscle coordination and body movement, can be challenging but it does not define these remarkable individuals. On World Prematurity Day, we celebrate their journey, their successes, and the love and support that surrounds them. 

At Cerebral Palsy Alliance we work around the clock to pioneer research, create awareness campaigns, fundraising activities, and innovative programs to raise understanding and provide resources for families living with cerebral palsy around the world. 

On World Prematurity Day 2023, we celebrate the scientific breakthroughs, the technological innovations, and connections within the global cerebral palsy community.  Our stories inspire empathy and action, driving us to build a more inclusive and supportive world for all individuals, of all abilities.