“Better measures needed” to tackle malnutrition in children with cerebral palsy

A new study has called for improved methods of assessing the nutritional wellbeing of children diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

Due to the significant motor disability that arises as a result of cerebral palsy, a disproportionate amount of children living with the condition are also affected by malnutrition.

The study, undertaken by a team of Turkish researchers, looked at a total of 1,108 patients aged between one and eighteen, 61 per cent of who were younger than eight. It found that the most common causes of their cerebral palsy were asphyxia, low birth weight and premature birth.

The research also found malnutrition to be highly common among the children, with 57.2 per cent considered to be malnourished, based on a doctor’s clinical judgement. However, when assessments were carried out based upon established child growth charts, measuring height to age and weight to age, it was found that 90 per cent were displaying the symptoms of malnutrition, with 80 per cent of cases being severe.

As a result of the discrepancy between the doctor’s judgement and the growth charts in diagnosing malnutrition, the study called for better tools for determining cases of malnutrition, which were adapted specifically for use with children with cerebral palsy.

Commenting on the report, a member of the research team said: “This large-scale survey provided valuable data regarding nutritional assessment practice and malnutrition prevalence among children with cerebral palsy, which may be utilised for future proactive strategies in the prevention and treatment of malnutrition in this population.”

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