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Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy (CP) is a common physical disability that is diagnosed during childhood. It is a group of neurological disorders that are non-progressive.

Individuals with CP have problems with muscle tone, movement, and/or motor skills. They can have growth deficits because of swallowing, feeding, and digestive problems. That’s why they need a balanced and nutritious diet for overall health and growth.1

Nestlé Health Science offers a variety of nutritional options that may be appropriate for supporting an individual with CP. Learn more below.

About Cerebral Palsy (CP)

The International Executive Committee for the Definition of Cerebral Palsy defines cerebral palsy as: “a group of permanent disorders of the development of movement and posture, causing activity limitation, that are attributed to non-progressive disturbances that occurred in the developing fetal or infant brain. The motor disorders of cerebral palsy are often accompanied by disturbances of sensation, perception, cognition, communication and behavior, by epilepsy, and by secondary musculoskeletal problems.” 2

There are many different types of CP, which vary in the parts of the body that are affected, the type of impairment and the severity of mobility limitations.

Nutrition & Cerebral Palsy (CP)

Providing optimal nutrition to individuals with cerebral palsy (CP) helps improve their nutritional status and their overall general health.

Quite often, individuals with CP require specific nutritional interventions. Indicators that can help determine if the individual needs nutritional intervention include:

  • No weight gain or growth
  • A deviation from an established “growth pattern”
  • Low body fat-stores with low weight in respect to height or length
  • Prolonged or stressful oral feeding
  • Signs of pulmonary aspiration or dehydration
  • Evidence of micronutrient deficiencies

The choice of a nutritional strategy, as well as the mode of administration, depends on:

  • The individual's nutritional status
  • The individual's nutritional requirements
  • The individual's ability to consume enough food and fluids orally
  • The risk of pulmonary aspiration

Before recommending a nutritional strategy, nutritional requirements need to be carefully assessed, as they vary greatly depending on physical impairments, feeding difficulties, body composition and physical activity levels.


Nutritional Strategies for Cerebral Palsy (CP)

There are several different types of nutritional solutions that may be appropriate for supporting an individual with CP. Introducing thickeners or oral nutritional supplements (ONS), while ensuring adequate composition, positioning and physical support during meals, is usually the first approach. If the individual is not gaining weight with these interventions, then tube feeding may be an appropriate next step.

See below for more information on each nutritional strategy.

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A large number of individuals with cerebral palsy (CP) suffer from dysphagia, which impairs their ability to swallow liquids. Thickeners can be a solution to modify the texture and to help them consume the required liquids. They are convenient and can be easily added to fluids, like juices or soups. These products are intended to be used under medical supervision.

Oral Nutritional Supplements

Many individuals with cerebral palsy (CP) have challenges with oral feeding. When an individual isn't getting enough calories from food, oral nutritional supplements (ONS) may be helpful to complement meals and ensure they are getting adequate nutrition. ONS contain calories, protein and micronutrients, which can enrich an individual's diet without needing to consume large amounts of food.

ONS are available in different flavors and calorie concentrations. There are a variety of product options available to suit an individual's needs. These products are intended to be used under medical supervision.

Enteral Nutritional Supplements

Tube feeding may be indicated in individuals with cerebral palsy (CP) who are unable to get adequate nutrition by mouth. Tube feeding can be a temporary solution until the individual's eating improves and weight increases, or it can be a long-term solution. These products are intended to be used under medical supervision.

For more information about the different types of feeding tubes and tube placement, visit


1.  Cerebral Palsy News Today. "Cerebral Palsy and Diet." Accessed 8 Aug, 2022.
2. Colver A et al. Cerebral palsy. Lancet. 2014;383:1240-49.