What makes children with cerebral palsy vulnerable to malnutrition? Findings from the Bangladesh cerebral palsy register (BCPR)

Disabil Rehabil. 2019 Sep;41(19):2247-2254. doi: 10.1080/09638288.2018.1461260. Epub 2018 Apr 16.


Purpose: To assess the nutritional status and underlying risk factors for malnutrition among children with cerebral palsy in rural Bangladesh. Materials and methods: We used data from the Bangladesh Cerebral Palsy Register; a prospective population based surveillance of children with cerebral palsy aged 0-18 years in a rural subdistrict of Bangladesh (i.e., Shahjadpur). Socio-demographic, clinical and anthropometric measurements were collected using Bangladesh Cerebral Palsy Register record form. Z scores were calculated using World Health Organization Anthro and World Health Organization AnthroPlus software. Results: A total of 726 children with cerebral palsy were registered into the Bangladesh Cerebral Palsy Register (mean age 7.6 years, standard deviation 4.5, 38.1% female) between January 2015 and December 2016. More than two-third of children were underweight (70.0%) and stunted (73.1%). Mean z score for weight for age, height for age and weight for height were -2.8 (standard deviation 1.8), -3.1 (standard deviation 2.2) and -1.2 (standard deviation 2.3) respectively. Moderate to severe undernutrition (i.e., both underweight and stunting) were significantly associated with age, monthly family income, gross motor functional classification system and neurological type of cerebral palsy. Conclusions: The burden of undernutrition is high among children with cerebral palsy in rural Bangladesh which is augmented by both poverty and clinical severity. Enhancing clinical nutritional services for children with cerebral palsy should be a public health priority in Bangladesh. Implications for Rehabilitation Population-based surveillance data on nutritional status of children with cerebral palsy in Bangladesh indicates substantially high burden of malnutrition among children with CP in rural Bangladesh. Children with severe form of cerebral palsy, for example, higher Gross Motor Function Classification System (GMFCS) level, tri/quadriplegic cerebral palsy presents the highest proportion of severe malnutrition; hence, these vulnerable groups should be focused in designing nutrition intervention and rehabilitation programs. Disability inclusive and focused nutrition intervention programme need to be kept as priority in national nutrition policies and nutrition action plans specially in low- and middle-income countries. Community-based management of malnutrition has the potential to overcome this poor nutritional scenario of children with disability (i.e., cerebral palsy). The global leaders such as World Health Organization, national and international organizations should take this in account and conduct further research to develop nutritional guidelines for this vulnerable group of population.

Keywords: BCPR; Bangladesh; Cerebral palsy (CP); children; disability; malnutrition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Bangladesh / epidemiology
  • Body Weight
  • Cerebral Palsy / diagnosis
  • Cerebral Palsy / epidemiology
  • Cerebral Palsy / rehabilitation
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Malnutrition* / diagnosis
  • Malnutrition* / epidemiology
  • Malnutrition* / prevention & control
  • Nutritional Status
  • Poverty
  • Risk Factors
  • Rural Population
  • Severity of Illness Index