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

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?

Growing Up Well with Cerebral Palsy