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Growing Up Well with Cerebral Palsy: Improving Nutrition, Health, and Wellbeing

A balding man with dark rimmed glasses smiles broadly in a white lab coat with a colorful striped tie.

Dr. Richard Stevenson, a developmental pediatrician at UVA, will present on the role of nutrition in health of children with cerebral palsy.

The Cerebral Palsy Research Network is excited to announce its November MyCP webinar entitled “Growing Up Well with Cerebral Palsy: Improving Nutrition, Health, and Wellbeing” with Dr. Richard Stevenson, Developmental Pediatrician and Division Head – Neurodevelopmental and Behavioral Pediatrics at the University of Virginia Health. The webinar will take place on Tuesday, November 14, at 8 pm ET. Dr. Stevenson has been leading efforts in the network to investigate the role of nutrition in overall growth and health for children with cerebral palsy (CP).

Growth is considered an integral indicator of nutrition, health, and wellbeing in children. The regular measurement of growth and comparison to reference data is a key component of health maintenance in children across the globe. In general, if a child is growing well compared to their peers, then they are considered to be disease free, adequately nourished, and living in a safe and “good enough” environment. Children with cerebral palsy are smaller in stature compared to their peers and in proportion to the severity of their motor impairment. But this raises many questions:

  • Is this growth pattern a problem that is modifiable?
  • Is the difference in growth due to poor nutrition, due to medical co-morbidities, due to poor activity levels or other factors that can be manipulated?
  • Does this difference in growth for children with CP matter?
  • Is it associated with poor health or with differences in quality of life?

A part of the overall differences in growth in people with cerebral palsy is the manner of growth and maturation of bone and muscle, and that bone and muscle problems (e.g. spasticity, contracture and osteoporosis) contribute to chronic pain and decreased mobility over the lifespan. Could these long-term problems be mitigated through childhood management of diet and physical activity?

Dr. Stevenson will review current knowledge on growth and nutrition and the relationships among growth, health, physical activity, and wellbeing in children with cerebral palsy. He will also discuss knowledge gaps and opportunities for additional research and improvements in how we care for children with cerebral palsy with the goal of improving health and quality of life across the lifespan. Dr. Stevenson also looks forward to community input on these questions and more. To join the webinar, please register using the form below or at https://cprn.org/mycp-webinar-series/. A recording of the webinar will be posted to our YouTube channel within 24 hours of the presentation.

Growing Up Well with Cerebral Palsy