King Edward Memorial Hospital
WA Register of Developmental Anomalies
The information collected by WARDA is used in a range of research settings. More than 200 research papers have been written using this valuable resource, making WARDA a world leader in cerebral palsy and developmental anomaly research.
Highlights of the research include:
- Research into the role of the vitamin folate for the prevention of neural tube defects. The data have also been used to monitor trends, and have shown a fall in neural tube defects in relation to the increase in use of periconceptional folic acid supplements and voluntary fortification of some foods with folic acid. The data collected by WARDA will be critically important in monitoring the effects of mandatory fortification of flour for bread-making, which was introduced in Australia in 2009.
- Evaluation of first trimester screening in WA for Down syndrome. This has shown that the first trimester screening program is very effective at identifying pregnancies at high risk of Down syndrome.
- Research identifying the under-ascertainment of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome in WA and the high rates of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome in some locations, which has led to the development of a Model of Care for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder in WA.
- Research into the causes of cerebral palsy which has shown that, contrary to the widely held belief, lack of oxygen to the baby's brain during a difficult birth is in fact a minor cause of cerebral palsy. Consequently, research is now focused on other risk factors, especially those occurring during and before pregnancy that either cause the brain damage or make the brain vulnerable to damage during labour and delivery.
- The ability to monitor increases in severe cerebral palsy in order to plan for adequate service provision, as the availability of many new medical technologies are extending the life span of persons in this very high dependency group.
Provided in the links below are a further examples of the research that has been conducted to date. For additional examples, please see the 2010 Annual Report of the Birth Defects Register and the 2006 Report of the Cerebral Palsy Register.