Oropharyngeal Dysphagia and Gross Motor Skills in Children With Cerebral Palsy

Queensland Cerebral Palsy and Rehabilitation Research Centre, School of Medicine.
PEDIATRICS (Impact Factor: 5.47). 04/2013; 131(5). DOI: 10.1542/peds.2012-3093
Source: PubMed


To determine the prevalence of oropharyngeal dysphagia (OPD) and its subtypes (oral phase, pharyngeal phase, saliva control), and their relationship to gross motor functional skills in preschool children with cerebral palsy (CP). It was hypothesized that OPD would be present across all gross motor severity levels, and children with more severe gross motor function would have increased prevalence and severity of OPD.

Children with a confirmed diagnosis of CP, 18 to 36 months corrected age, born in Queensland between 2006 and 2009, participated. Children with neurodegenerative conditions were excluded. This was a cross-sectional population-based study. Children were assessed by using 2 direct OPD measures (Schedule for Oral Motor Assessment; Dysphagia Disorders Survey), and observations of signs suggestive of pharyngeal phase impairment and impaired saliva control. Gross motor skills were described by using the Gross Motor Function Measure, Gross Motor Function Classification System (GMFCS), Manual Ability Classification System, and motor type/ distribution.

OPD was prevalent in 85% of children with CP, and there was a stepwise relationship between OPD and GMFCS level. There was a significant increase in odds of having OPD, or a subtype, for children who were nonambulant (GMFCS V) compared with those who were ambulant (GMFCS I) (odds ratio = 17.9, P = .036).

OPD was present across all levels of gross motor severity using direct assessments. This highlights the need for proactive screening of all young children with CP, even those with mild impairments, to improve growth and nutritional outcomes and respiratory health.

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    • "These findings were similar to those of Del Giudice, who studied clinical signs based on parent-report in children with CP (mean 5.2 years) (Del Giudice et al., 1999), although our estimate based on parent-report was lower. We found that there was a stepwise increase in proportion of children with clinical signs with each increase in GMFCS level, consistent with the broader literature on OPD (Benfer et al., 2013; Calis et al., 2008; Fung et al., 2002; Parkes et al., 2010; Reilly et al., 1996; Sullivan et al., 2000; Waterman et al., 1992). A surprising finding was the notable proportion of children from GMFCS I and II with clinical signs, even after applying the modified cut-points from the validation study (35.1 and 13.3%, respectively). "
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    ABSTRACT: This study aimed to determine the discriminative validity, reproducibility, and prevalence of clinical signs suggestive of pharyngeal dysphagia according to gross motor function in children with cerebral palsy (CP). It was a cross-sectional population-based study of 130 children diagnosed with CP at 18-36 months (mean=27.4, 81 males) and 40 children with typical development (TD, mean=26.2, 18 males). Sixteen signs suggestive of pharyngeal phase impairment were directly observed in a videoed mealtime by a speech pathologist, and reported by parents on a questionnaire. Gross motor function was classified using the Gross Motor Function Classification System. The study found that 67.7% of children had clinical signs, and this increased with poorer gross motor function (OR=1.7, p<0.01). Parents reported clinical signs in 46.2% of children, with 60% agreement with direct clinical mealtime assessment (kappa=0.2, p<0.01). The most common signs on direct assessment were coughing (44.7%), multiple swallows (25.2%), gurgly voice (20.3%), wet breathing (18.7%) and gagging (11.4%). 37.5% of children with TD had clinical signs, mostly observed on fluids. Dysphagia cut-points were modified to exclude a single cough on fluids, with a modified prevalence estimate proposed as 50.8%. Clinical signs suggestive of pharyngeal dysphagia are common in children with CP, even those with ambulatory CP. Parent-report on 16 specific signs remains a feasible screening method. While coughing was consistently identified by clinicians, it may not reflect children's regular performance, and was not sufficiently discriminative in children aged 18-36 months. Crown Copyright © 2014. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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