Cerebral palsy: association between nutritional status and occurrence of oropharyngeal dysphagia

ABSTRACT Objective: to verify the association between nutritional status and the occurrence of oropharyngeal dysphagia in individuals with cerebral palsy. Methods: a cross-sectional, quantitative study with people aged between two and 20 years. Neuromotor impairment, occurrence and degree of dysphagia, anthropometry, food consumption, feeding route, diet fractionation and consistency were evaluated. Swallowing evaluation was performed by a skilled speech-language-hearing therapist, through the Clinical Evaluation Protocol of Pediatric Dysphagia (PAD-PED, Portuguese acronym).The statistical analysis was performed adopting p<0.05%. Results: 40 subjects with a median of 8.7 (5.45-14.5) years, 65% of whom were males. Concerning neuromotor impairment, 72.5% were classified at levels IV and V. The prevalence of dysphagia was 70%, the feeding route being predominantly oral (77.5%) with a normal diet consistency (55%). In the growth curves, all of them were classified within an adequate height for their age. As for weight, body mass index and skinfolds, 82.5%, 85% and 62.5% were eutrophic, respectively. Statistically significant association was found between dysphagia and body mass index (p=0.018). The mean daily caloric and proteic intake was 1427.29±338.62 kcal and 56.86±17.57 grams, respectively. Statistically significant association was found between the feeding route and the amount of protein ingested daily (p=0.041). Conclusion: most subjects presented oropharyngeal dysphagia and more severe motor impairment; they were fed orally with a normal diet consistency. It was observed that the greater the difficulty in swallowing, the greater the impairment of nutritional status.