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Children with cerebral palsy in Ghana: malnutrition, feeding challenges, and caregiver quality of life

Aim: To assess feeding difficulties and nutritional status among children with cerebral palsy (CP) in Ghana, and whether severity of feeding difficulties and malnutrition are independently associated with caregiver quality of life (QoL).

Method: This cross-sectional survey included 76 children with CP (18mo-12y) from four regions of Ghana. Severity of CP was classified using the Gross Motor Function Classification System and anthropometric measures were taken. Caregivers rated their QoL (using the Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory Family Impact Module) and difficulties with eight aspects of child feeding. Logistic regression analysis explored factors (socio-economic characteristics, severity of CP, and feeding difficulties) associated with being underweight. Linear regression was undertaken to assess the relationship between caregiver QoL and child malnutrition and feeding difficulties.

Results: Poor nutritional status was common: 65% of children aged under 5 years were categorized as underweight, 54% as stunted, and 58% as wasted. Reported difficulties with child's feeding were common and were associated with the child being underweight (odds ratio 10.7, 95% confidence interval 2.3-49.6) and poorer caregiver QoL (p<0.001). No association between caregiver QoL and nutritional status was evident.

Interpretation: Among rural, low resource populations in Ghana, there is a need for appropriate, accessible caregiver training and support around feeding practices of children with CP, to improve child nutritional status and caregiver well-being.

What This Paper Adds: Malnutrition is very common among children with cerebral palsy in this rural population in Ghana. Feeding difficulties in this population were strongly associated with being underweight. Feeding difficulties were associated with poorer caregiver quality of life (QoL). Child nutritional status was not associated with caregiver QoL. 

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Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology
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