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

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Abstract

Aim:

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

Methods:

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.

Results:

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.

Conclusion:

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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