Feeding and gastrointestinal problems in children with cerebral palsy

Int J Rehabil Res. 2010 Sep;33(3):218-24. doi: 10.1097/MRR.0b013e3283375e10.


The aim of our study was to identify feeding and gastrointestinal system (GIS) problems in children with cerebral palsy (CP), and to evaluate the relationship between these problems and the severity of CP. A total of 120 children with CP were enrolled consecutively into the study (67 males, 53 females; mean age: 6.0±2.4 years; range: 2-12 years). The children were classified according to the Swedish classification as diplegic, hemiplegic, or quadriplegic. Severity of CP was classified based on the Gross Motor Function Classification System. The amount of time that the caregiver allocated to mealtimes, modifications of the food, as well as feeding and GIS problems was evaluated. Feeding dysfunction was classified as mild, moderate, or severe. Comparisons of GIS and feeding disorders and the severity of CP were carried out using χ test. The results indicated lack of appetite in 46 of the 120 children (38.3%), sialorrhea in 37 (30.8%), constipation in 30 (25%), difficulty in swallowing in 23 (19.2%), and feeding dysfunction in 26 (21.7%). On the basis of the Gross Motor Function Classification System (GMFCS), the incidence of GIS problems and feeding dysfunction was found to be significantly higher in the children classified in the severe group. The time taken to consume meals was significantly longer among children with feeding dysfunction. Feeding and GIS problems are frequent in children with CP, and more marked in those with severe CP. Approximately one fourth of children with CP suffer from feeding dysfunction, and more time has to be allocated to consume meals.

MeSH terms

  • Appetite
  • Cerebral Palsy / complications*
  • Child
  • Constipation / epidemiology
  • Constipation / etiology
  • Deglutition Disorders / epidemiology
  • Deglutition Disorders / etiology
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders of Childhood / epidemiology
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders of Childhood / etiology*
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / epidemiology
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sialorrhea / epidemiology
  • Sialorrhea / etiology
  • Turkey / epidemiology