Suboptimal nutrition and low physical activity are observed together with reduced plasma brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) concentration in children with severe cerebral palsy (CP)

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Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is a mediator of exercise and nutrition-induced neural plasticity. In children with cerebral palsy (CP), neuromuscular deficits and mobility impairment have a negative impact on their physical activity level and nutritional status, but whether these children have reduced BDNF concentrations is unknown. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to investigate the plasma BDNF concentration, nutritional status, and physical activity level in children with mild to severe CP. Blood sampling, dietary registration, and questionnaires were completed for children with mild CP (gross motor function classification system (GMFCS) I⁻II, n = 31, age 10.6 ± 0.6 years), severe CP (GMFCS IV⁻V, n = 14, age 10.9 ± 1.1 years) and typically developed (TD) children (n = 22, age 10.9 ± 0.6 years). Children with severe CP had ~40% lower plasma BDNF concentration than TD children (p < 0.05). Furthermore, children with severe CP had lower daily physical activity level than TD children (p < 0.01), and a daily intake of energy, n-3 fatty acids, and dietary fibers that was only ~50% of TD (p > 0.001). Reduced plasma BDNF concentrations were observed in children with severe CP. This may be of significance for optimal neural growth and plasticity. This was observed together with low physical activity levels and a suboptimal intake of energy, n-3 fatty acids, and dietary fibers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number620
Issue number3
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 2019

    Research areas

  • Faculty of Science - Dietary registration, Maximal oxygen uptake, Blood sampling, Energy, Dietary fibers, n-3 fatty acids, DHA, Plasticity, Cerebral palsy

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