Neurologically impaired (NI) children are at increased risk of malnutrition due to several nutritional and non-nutritional factors. Among the nutritional factors, insufficient dietary intake as a consequence of feeding difficulties is one of the main issues. Feeding problems are frequently secondary to oropharyngeal dysphagia, which usually correlates with the severity of motor impairment and presents in around 90% of preschool children with cerebral palsy (CP) during the first year of life. Other nutritional factors are represented by excessive nutrient losses, often subsequent to gastroesophageal reflux and altered energy metabolism. Among the non-nutritional factors, the type and severity of neurological impairment, ambulatory status, the degree of cognitive impairment, and use of entiepileptic medication altogether concur to determination of nutritional status. With the present review, the current literature is discussed and a practical approach for nutritional assessment in NI children is proposed. Early identification and intervention of nutritional issues of NI children with a multidisciplinary approach is crucial to improve the overall health and quality of life of these complex children.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited