Cerebral Palsy Awareness: Nutrition Issues with Cerebral Palsy

Amy Long Carrera, MS, RD, CNSC, CWCMS
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
03/01/17  8:58 AM PST
cerebral palsy awareness

March is Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month.

cerebral palsy awareness


What is Cerebral Palsy?

CP is a group of disorders that affect a person’s ability to move and maintain balance and posture.

Cerebral = having to do with the brain

Palsy = weakness/problems with using the muscles


How common is it?

  • Cerebral palsy is the most common motor disability in childhood.
  • Up to 4 out of every 1,000 children in the U.S. have it.


What causes Cerebral Palsy?

  • Abnormal brain development or damage to the developing brain due to:
  • Low birth weight and premature birth
  • Lack of blood and oxygen to the brain during birth
  • Infection during pregnancy


What medical issues are associated with Cerebral Palsy?

  • Incontinence issues (due to impaired sensation, poor muscle control, leakage)
  • Urological issues (one third of CP patients require urological evaluation)
  • Nutrition issues (see below):


Nutrition and Cerebral Palsy:

Nutrition Issue Signs and Symptoms
Altered gastrointestinal function
  • Reflux
  • Constipation
  • Delayed stomach emptying due to medications
  • Swallowing and feeding problems
  • Spastic muscle movements
  • Low muscle tone
  • Low mobility and activity
  • Slowed metabolism due to seizure medications



  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  2. MyChild at CerebralPalsy.org
  3. Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Nutrition Services for Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities And Special Health Care Needs. J Acad Nutr Diet.


Want to know more about nutrition and development disabilities in children and how to manage them? Don’t miss this free webinar:

Nutrition Management for Children with Developmental Disabilities Webinar Video


Read more about Cerebral Palsy:

Five Ways to Build Social Skills in Children with Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral Palsy and the Meaning of Unconditional Love

Transitioning into Adulthood with Cerebral Palsy

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