Body composition in nutritionally adequate ambulatory and non-ambulatory children with cerebral palsy and a healthy reference group


* Correspondence to first author at College of Kinesiology, University of Saskatchewan, 105 Gymnasium Place, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, S7N 5C2. E-mail:


Bone-mineral content (BMC; g) and density (BMD; g/cm2) were measured by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry in the proximal femur, femoral neck, and total body of nutritionally adequate children (n=17; 11 girls, six boys; aged 7.6 to 13.8 years) with spastic cerebral palsy (CP). Bone-mineral-free lean tissue (BMFL; g) and fat mass (FM; g) were obtained from total body scans. Chronological and developmental age-based z scores for the children with CP were derived from a pediatric database (n=894). Children with CP had BMC z scores from -1.8 (total body) to -3.2 (femoral neck) SDs below the normative sample. Non-independent ambulators had lower z scores for total body BMD, femoral neck BMD, and BMC than independent ambulators. The BMFL z score of individuals with CP was 2 SDs below that of the reference group and higher in the independent ambulators than in the non-independent ambulators, whereas FM deviated little. These findings suggest that non-nutritional factors, such as ambulation, account for the low BMC, BMD, and BMFL tissue observed in this population.