OWL: A research study of children ages 2 – 15 with and without Cerebral Palsy Funded by National Institutes of Health


Would you like to help us learn more about CP?

OWL is a health study started at Michigan State University’s Department of Epidemiology to learn more about the causes of cerebral palsy (CP). We partner with physicians and health providers in three Michigan communities - Lansing, Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids - to contact families who can help with this research.

What is CP?

CP results from an injury to the developing brain before or shortly after birth. People with CP have difficulty controlling their muscles and movement, and experience limitations in certain daily activities. CP is usually diagnosed in a child’s first or second year when development is delayed.

Why is this study important?

CP is the most common disorder of childhood that severely affects movement and activity. About 2 in every 1000 children born in the U.S. are later found to have CP. Despite improvements in health care, rates of CP have not decreased over the past 40 years

What will we study?

OWL scientists hope to understand more about very early brain damage that causes CP and how it could be prevented. We will study pregnancy and birth histories in families with children affected by CP and families with children who do not have CP.

We will examine very early blood samples that are routinely collected and stored with every birth in Michigan. These newborn blood spots, along with saliva samples from parents and children, contain information that may give us clues to what might cause CP.

Who can participate?

To compare life histories, we need the help of children WITH and WITHOUT cerebral palsy AND their parents. We are seeking children born in Michigan, who are 2 - 15 years of age.

Would you like to be part of this study? 

  • We will be available at provider practices, or you can contact us directly (see contact information below for Central Study office  and Recruitment Coordinators at our 3 sites).
  • Participation is entirely voluntary. The study will be fully described and all participants in the study will be asked for their consent.
  • All study information will be kept strictly confidential. 

With participant permission OWL will...

  • Interview mothers about pregnancy, health and family history.
  • Test stored newborn blood spots and mothers’ pregnancy blood samples, and review medical records.
  • Collect saliva samples from mother, father and child to test family genetic variations.
  • Collect short questionnaires with information on child health, movement and communication skills.
  • OWL provides $75 after completion of study activities to help reimburse any costs of participation, such as travel and babysitting.

Research Investigators

Principal investigator:  
Nigel Paneth, M.D. Michigan State University


Ed Hurvitz, M.D. University of Michigan
Nancy Dodge, M.D. Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital

For more information about MSU’s cerebral palsy research group and CP, visit our website at: www.epi.msu.edu/cpon

Questions? Please call or email

Central Study Office Director at MSU Department of Epidemiology
Madeleine Lenski, M.S.P.H.           
Phone: (517) 353-8623 ext. 116
Address:  B601 West Fee Hall, East Lansing, MI 48824  
E-mail: owl@epi.msu.edu

CPON The Cerebral Palsy Outreach Network
Copyright 2017 | The Cerebral Palsy Outreach Network | Michigan State University | 909 Fee Road | Room B601 | East Lansing, MI 48824