Showgoers support cerebral palsy research

Elliott O'Callaghan, from Crafers Primary School, demonstrating how to do a cheek swab.
Photo by Michael O'Callaghan.

Elliott O'Callaghan, from Crafers Primary School, demonstrating how to do a cheek swab.
Photo by Michael O'Callaghan.

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Monday, 7 September 2009

Visitors to this year's Royal Adelaide Show are being asked to play a role in the world's biggest study into the genetic causes of cerebral palsy.

Cerebral palsy is one of the world's most serious complications arising during pregnancy and birth, affecting one in every 500 children born in Australia.

Researchers from the University of Adelaide are based in the Jubilee Pavilion throughout this year's Show, where they're asking families to provide genetic samples in the form of cheek swabs.

The researchers are currently looking for 10,000 Australians to take part in the study, including those with and without cerebral palsy, to help unravel the mystery of how genetic mutations are linked to cerebral palsy.

Young people aged 5-18 years and their mothers are needed to provide cheek swabs, which will be important in comparing any genetic differences that occur from mother to child.

Parental permission will be required before children can provide a cheek swab. Once taken, these swabs will help researchers to understand what genetic differences exist between those who do and don't have cerebral palsy.

"So far we have enrolled more than 1000 families around Australia, but we need many more families for our study," says the National Trial Coordinator, PhD student Michael O'Callaghan (Discipline of Obstetrics & Gynaecology).

"The Royal Adelaide Show is a great opportunity to recruit families for our study, because you get the chance to see about one third of the State's population across nine days.

"Being able to promote awareness of cerebral palsy, the world-leading research being conducted in this State, and encouraging community participation will be very important in helping us to achieve a possible breakthrough on cerebral palsy," Mr O'Callaghan says.

"Many children start laughing when they swab their cheeks because it tickles. The laughing clown - an iconic symbol of the Royal Adelaide Show - really captures the spirit of participation in this study," he says.

Families who choose not to provide a cheek swab at the Show can take a swab kit home and post their samples back to the researchers in a reply paid envelope.

To find out more about the study or to enrol, people can either:

SMS their name and address to: 0439 201 795, or
Phone (freecall): 1800 800 254, or
Email:, or visit


Contact Details

Dr Michael O'Callaghan
Affiliate Lecturer
Robinson Institute
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8275 1169
Mobile: 0405 419 207

Mr David Ellis
Deputy Director, Media and Corporate Relations
External Relations
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 5414
Mobile: +61 (0)421 612 762