Body mass index in ambulatory cerebral palsy patients

Brian T. Feeley, Kiran Gollapudi, Norman Y. Otsuka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Malnutrition is a common problem in children with cerebral palsy. Although malnutrition is often recognized in patients with severe cerebral palsy, it can be unrecognized in less severely affected patients. The consequences of malnutrition are serious, and include decreased muscle strength, poor immune status, and depressed cerebral functioning. Low body mass index has been used as a marker for malnutrition. The purpose of this study was to determine which patients in an ambulatory cerebral palsy patient population were at risk for low body mass index. A retrospective chart review was performed on 75 patients. Age, sex, height, weight, type of cerebral palsy, and functional status [gross motor functional classification system (GMFCS) level] was recorded from the chart. Descriptive statistics with bivariate and multivariate regression analyses were performed. Thirty-eight boys and 37 girls with an average age of 8.11 years were included in the study. Unique to our patient population, all cerebral palsy patients were independent ambulators. Patients with quadriplegic cerebral palsy had a significantly lower body mass index than those with diplegic and hemiplegic cerebral palsy. Patients with a GMFCS III had significantly lower body mass index than those with GMFCS I and II. When multivariate regression analysis to control for age and sex was performed, low body mass index remained associated with quadriplegic cerebral palsy and GMFCS III. Malnutrition is a common health problem in patients with cerebral palsy, leading to significant morbidity in multiple organ systems. We found that in an ambulatory cerebral palsy population, patients with lower functional status or quadriplegia had significantly lower body mass index, suggesting that even highly functioning ambulatory cerebral palsy patients are at risk for malnutrition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)165-169
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Pediatric Orthopaedics Part B
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Body mass index
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Malnutrition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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