National surveillance of oral medication prescription for children with dystonic cerebral palsy.

Research paper by Adrienne A Harvey, Natasha N Bear, James J Rice, Giuliana G Antolovich, Mary-Clare MC Waugh

Indexed on: 05 Mar '21Published on: 04 Mar '21Published in: Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health


Oral medications are often first-line medical management for children with cerebral palsy who have generalised dystonia; however, evidence for their effectiveness is limited and dosing practices are inconsistent. As a first step to improve consistency, this study aimed to examine current clinical practice of expert doctors for prescribing medications for children with dystonic cerebral palsy including prescribing patterns and combinations of medications used. This was a prospective surveillance study of medical doctors working in major Australian centres who manage children with cerebral palsy. Each week over a continuous 6-month period, doctors completed a custom developed online survey for children seen that week with dystonic cerebral palsy for whom they prescribed a new medication to treat dystonia. Twenty-five doctors consented to participate, 16 of whom prescribed new medications for dystonia in children with cerebral palsy over the study period. There were 77 children who were prescribed new medications. Baclofen and gabapentin were prescribed most, followed by levodopa, trihexyphenidyl and diazepam. The most common combinations of medications were baclofen and diazepam or baclofen and gabapentin. Dosage regimens were variable, particularly for trihexyphenidyl and diazepam. Inconsistencies in dosing regimens remain for oral medication prescription by Australian doctors when managing dystonia in cerebral palsy. Future studies using the consensus of expert clinicians will be conducted to develop guidelines in an area where the evidence for individual medications is extremely limited. © 2021 Paediatrics and Child Health Division (The Royal Australasian College of Physicians).