Feeding problems, growth and nutritional status in children with cerebral palsy

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The aim was to estimate the prevalence of feeding and nutritional problems in children with cerebral palsy (CP) in Norway.


Data were abstracted from the Norwegian CP Register for 661 (368 boys) children born 1996–2003 (mean age 6 years 7 months; SD: 1.5). For children born from 1999 to 2003, weight and height were available. Body mass index (BMI) (kg/m2) was used to assess nutritional status.


One hundred and thirty-two (21%) children with CP were completely dependent on assistance during feeding. The prevalence of gastrostomy tube feeding was 14%. Longer duration of gastrostomy tube feeding was associated with higher weight and BMI, but not with height. Only 63% of the children with CP had normal BMI, 7% had grade 3 thinness, while the prevalence of overweight and obesity in our study was 16%. In all, 20% of the children had mean z-scores for weight and/or height below – 2 SD.


Feeding problems in children with CP were common and associated with poor linear growth. A high proportion of the children were undernourished. Moreover, our results suggest that gastrostomy tube feeding may have been introduced too late in some children.

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