Sarah Harris Meets The Professor Researching Cerebral Palsy

Sarah Harris Meets The Professor Researching Cerebral Palsy

Sarah Harris

Aug 23, 2017

Internationally recognised neonatologist Professor Nadia Badawi AM has extensive experience working in the field of cerebral palsy and newborn brain conditions. Speaking to Sarah Harris in our exclusive video series to promote the annual Cerebral Palsy Alliance fundraiser Steptember, Professor Badawi and a team of experts are leading research into interventions and prevention.

In the 10 years that we started the research foundation the rate of cerebral palsy has dropped dramatically,” says the internationally recognised neonatologist, who was appointed by the Cerebral Palsy Alliance as the first Chair of Cerebral Palsy in 2009.

“It used to effect one in 400 people in Australia, we’ve gone to one in 500, and we have some early results from our register to indicate that it looks like it might even be getting close to one in 600 now.”

Making every step count

The professor says it’s events like Steptember, in which participants are sponsored to walk 10,000 steps a day for 28 consecutive days, that will help drop that ratio even further.

“The funds are extremely important. Research is going to change everything. We’ve seen the effects of research in cancer, in heart conditions and cerebral palsy has been the poor cousin; it’s just not right.

“I have this dream that if we can accelerate the amount of money that comes in we well get answers much more quickly.”

Funds from initiatives such as Steptember have already enabled the professor to establish the Australian CP Register (ACPR), a confidential research database of clinical information about people with cerebral palsy.

It’s seen as a vital first step in being able to understand the causes and evaluate preventive strategies as well as to assist in planning present and future services for those who live with cerebral palsy.

Nadia Badawi with Ben Tudhope, paralympian athlete.
Nadia Badawi with Ben Tudhope, paralympian athlete.

The professor, who was recognised with a Membership of the Order of Australia (AM) in 2014, tells Sarah that in the past everyone thought cerebral palsy was caused by a lack of oxygen in the brain during the birth process.

“We now know that only about 10% of cerebral palsy happens due to a lack of oxygen while the baby is being born.

“We know now that most of it is related to events during the pregnancy. We now know that nearly one in two babies who go on to have cerebral palsy were born too early.”

It’s breakthroughs like those that will help motivate this passionate professor to strap on her pedometer again for this year’s Steptember campaign, which starts on September 4.

“I love Steptember…mind you, I’ve become so fanatical about it I find it really hard to get a team together!

“I enjoy the aspect of advocacy. It gives me an opportunity to actually talk about cerebral palsy, the most common physical disability of childhood.

“That’s what I love about Steptember, the chance to get out, join with the community to do something that’s good for us, good for people with cerebral palsy, and also raise the funds.”

To join the professor in this year’s campaign, or for more details on this amazing cause, visit www.steptember.org.au.

Your Steptember kit, consisting of a pedometer, lanyard and booklet, will be delivered right to your doorstep.

Every dollar you, or our company raises, will provide vital equipment, therapy and services to children and adults living with cerebral palsy. Or, you can choose to raise funds for ground-breaking research into the prevention, and maybe even help the professor and her team find a cure.

Read other stories supporting Cerebral Palsy Alliance here:

Cerebral Palsy Alliance: Mum Says ‘I Want Our Little Miss Sunshine To Know She Can Do Anything’

Paralympian Gets Behind Cerebral Palsy Alliance Fundraiser


By Presenter

Sarah Harris

Sarah Harris is the presenter of Game Changers.com.au. She is also a mum of two, journalist and host of Network Ten’s show, Studio 10 and Shark Tank. It takes a special mix of sass and smarts to wrangle co-hosts (and media heavyweights) Kerrie Anne Kennerley and Joe Hildebrand in front of a live studio audience every day. Sarah has both in spades; not least because she spent more than a decade on the road as a reporter, covering some of the biggest stories around the world. Before moving to Network 10, she worked at Channel Nine as the network’s go to reporter: delivering extended live coverage from Victoria’s Black Saturday bushfires, the Christchurch earthquake and Queensland’s devastating floods in 2011.


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