Research Activities, May 2013
No consensus on efficacy, safety, and applicability of feeding and nutrition interventions for adolescents with cerebral palsy
Comparative Effectiveness Research
A new AHRQ research review on feeding and nutrition interventions in adolescents with cerebral palsy (CP) finds that despite a range of potential feeding interventions, consensus is lacking on the efficacy, safety, and applicability of these interventions. Multiple interventions are often used in combination to treat feeding difficulties in adolescents with CP, making it difficult to know the individual effects of each intervention. Although all of the studies reviewed demonstrate significant weight gain with gastrostomy (tube feeding directly into the stomach), the review finds that results for other growth measures are mixed and there are potential risks of harms such as overfeeding, infection, stomach ulcers, and reflux. Moreover, there is not sufficient evidence to determine how well behavioral (e.g., oral stimulation, caregiver training) and surgical interventions can reduce feeding difficulties in adolescents with CP.
CP is the most common cause of motor disability in children. More than 100,000 children are estimated to be affected in the United States, and approximately 90 percent of children with CP survive into adulthood. People with CP frequently have feeding and swallowing problems that may lead to a variety of complications.
This review examined the effectiveness of available interventions for feeding and nutrition problems that have been evaluated in individuals with CP. The research review, Interventions for Feeding and Nutrition in Cerebral Palsy can be accessed at http://go.usa.gov/TKqk.