Malnutrition and epilepsy are comorbidities among children with cerebral palsy

A new study has found that malnutrition and epilepsy are two common comorbidities in children with cerebral palsy.

Cerebral palsy is characterised as abnormal muscle tone, posture control and motor function, which is caused by brain lesions that occur during foetal development or infancy.

The study revealed that malnutrition is highly prevalent among children with cerebral palsy, not only due to poor nutrient intake caused by gastrointestinal disorders, but can also be caused by other factors such as disease severity, cognitive and motor deficits, and use of anti-epileptic medications.

Results indicated that malnutrition was the most prevalent comorbidity observed in children (76.6 per cent) followed by epilepsy (51.7 per cent).

Findings revealed that only one in five patients had a normal weight, with 35.5 per cent of patients had severe malnutrition.

This could be because more than half of the patients (58.4 per cent) had difficulties consuming solid food; one in three participants preferred consuming a puree (33 per cent) while seven per cent could only drink liquids.

Another frequent comorbidity related to children with cerebral palsy is epilepsy; within the study over half (51.7 per cent) of participants experience frequent seizures, with the most common type being a general seizure (49.8 per cent), followed by partial seizures which occurred in 47.4 per cent of the children, and infantile spasms in 2.8 per cent of the patients.

The researchers said: “In conclusion, our study reported a higher rate of malnutrition and epilepsy in children with cerebral palsy. Certainly, many factors can cause malnutrition, such as inadequate food intake as well as neurological and gastrointestinal problems, and these must be eliminated in these children.

“Therefore we believe the awareness of families and physicians about the nutritional status of children with cerebral palsy should be increased.”