From recurring headaches to epilepsy, infants and children may sometimes suffer from a neurological disorder. Proper diagnosis, appropriate treatment and lifestyle modifications are important steps to help a child to feel better.
Neurological disorders are caused by multiple factors and affect a child’s growing brain. Some examples of more common neurological disorders are:1
- Persistent headaches or migraines
- Developmental and motor problems
- Tourette’s syndrome
- Cerebral palsy
Some conditions are caused by genetic factors, others by injury or illness – others have causes that are still unclear.1*
Reasons to be concerned
One reason childhood neurological disorders are such a concern is that a child’s nervous system, their brain and spinal cord, is still developing. The more common disorders affect several hundreds of thousands of children.2 Fortunately, with proper diagnosis and treatment, many of these conditions can be successfully managed so a child can successfully grow to adulthood.
Neurological disorders in adults
While the presence of gastrointestinal dysmotility, vomiting and gastro-oesophageal reflux is well documented in children with neurological disorders,3,4 there is comparably little data pertaining to feeding intolerance in adults with neurological disorders.
In a retrospective audit of patients with long-term neurological disorders, 28% of adult patients (17/60) with neurological disorders had documented evidence of intolerance to enteral feeding, which was not attributable to infection or other diagnoses.5
The important role of nutrition
While diagnosis and treatment will be specific to each condition, one common factor in addressing these conditions is nutrition.
For example, in the case of cerebral palsy, a condition where the part of the brain that is damaged can lead to impaired motor development. An assessment of the nutritional requirements and the means of ingestion are important, as normal eating may be difficult.6
At Nestlé Health Science, we are concerned with this and many other childhood and adult conditions. We are actively developing nutritional management strategies to address the needs of both young and older patients to improve their quality of life.
- John Hopkins Medicine. Neurology and neurosurgery. Available at: http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/neurology_neurosurgery/centers_clinics/pediatric-neurology/conditions/index.html. Accessed November 2018.
- Quitadamo P et al. Eur J Paediatric Neurol 2016; 20(6): 810–815.
- Sullivan PB et al. Dev Med Child Neurol 2000; 42(10): 674–680.
- Parry S. How prevalent are gastrointestinal problems in the long-term feeding of patients with a neurological condition? Poster MON-P098. ESPEN Congress 2016.
- Wittenbrook W. Nutritional assessment and intervention in cerebral palsy. Available at: https://med.virginia.edu/ginutrition/wp-content/uploads/sites/199/2014/06/WittenbrookArticle.pdf. Accessed November 2018.
- Kuzawa CW et al. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2014; 111(36): 13010–5.
Footnotes and abbreviations:
*Listed symptoms are not all inclusive; actual patient symptoms may vary.