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Am J Clin Nutr. 1996 Oct;64(4):627-34.

Energy expenditure of children and adolescents with severe disabilities: a cerebral palsy model.

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Division of Gastroenterology, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


Spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy (SQCP) is a severe disability that is associated with abnormal physical activity, body composition, and food intake and with frequent malnutrition. This study examined the pattern of dietary intake, anthropometry, and energy expenditure in a group of subjects with SQCP aged 2-18 y and a normal control group. The energy expenditure pattern was determined from resting energy expenditure (REE, n = 61 SQCP; n = 37 control group) by using indirect calorimetry and from total energy expenditure (TEE, n = 32 SQCP; n = 32 control group) by using the doubly labeled water method. Physical activity, including the chronic spasticity of SQCP, was estimated from the ratio of TEE to REE. Abnormal growth and body composition were common and dietary intake was markedly overreported in the children with SQCP. Children with SQCP were divided according to body fat stores determined by triceps-skinfold-thickness measurements. The children with low fat stores had a lower REE adjusted for fat-free mass compared with the SQCP and control groups with adequate fat stores. TEE was significantly lower for the SQCP group than for the control group. The ratio of TEE to REE, indicating energy for nonbasal needs, was significantly lower in the SQCP children than in the control group, with the adequately nourished SQCP children having lower ratios than the more poorly nourished SQCP group. The nonbasal energy expenditure, such as for physical activity and spasticity, of children with SQCP was low. The nutrition-related growth failure and abnormal pattern of REE are likely related to inadequate energy intake.

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