Objectives: To describe nutritional status in a population-based sample of children with moderate or severe cerebral palsy (CP) and to explore the relationships between nutritional status and health and functional outcomes.
Study design: A population-based strategy was used to enroll children with CP at 6 geographic sites. Research assistants performed anthropometric assessment, determined severity of motor impairment, and interviewed caregivers with the Child Health Questionnaire and a questionnaire designed specifically for this study. Anthropometric measures were converted to Z scores and the relationship between health and nutritional status was assessed using regression models.
Results: Among the 235 participants, indicators of malnutrition were common. Poor nutritional status correlated with increased health care utilization (hospitalizations, doctor visits) and decreased participation in usual activities by the child and parent.
Conclusions: Malnutrition is common in children with moderate or severe CP and associated with poorer health status and limitations in societal participation. Further studies are needed to determine the nature of these associations and how to manage nutrition in children with CP to optimize growth and health outcomes.