The timing of protein intake can be improved with higher intake during breakfast and lunch to better support skeletal muscle growth and development in children with cerebral palsy, a new study showed.
The research article, “Dose, timing, and source of protein intake of young people with spastic cerebral palsy” was published in Disability and Rehabilitation.
The reduced trajectory of muscle strength through development is a critical factor that determines functional capacity and mobility in cerebral palsy. Adolescents with cerebral palsy are at risk of severely decreased motor abilities and physical performance, with many eventually losing the ability to walk and move.
Recent studies have shown that smaller muscles and early atrophy are already present in cerebral palsy patients as young as 15 months. Inactivity and undernutrition could contribute to the loss of muscle mass and muscle atrophy.
The past few decades have seen a growing interest in interventions to increase physical activity level or muscle strength in people with cerebral palsy. However, it is important to emphasize that in addition to training, suitable protein intake is likely critical to prevent and treat loss of muscle mass. Regular intake of high-quality proteins is crucial to allow for muscle preservation and growth.
Previously published studies have reported that the dose of protein intake of children with cerebral palsy was within normal ranges when compared to the recommendations for typically developing children. However, these studies did not look at the timing and source of the dietary protein intake.
Researchers from two Netherlands institutions — the University Medical Center Utrecht and Wageningen University and Research — and Nutricia Research addressed this question to help develop strategies to support skeletal muscle growth and development in children with cerebral palsy.
Together they studied protein intake in 19 young people with cerebral palsy, focusing on amount and time of day as well as the source. To do so, they looked at the daily intake of protein relative to body weight and the energy percentage — the amount of energy gained individually from protein, carbohydrates, and fat.