Serum leptin levels in children with cerebral palsy: relationship with growth and nutritional status.

AIM: Children with Cerebral Palsy (CP) are generally undernourished and growth retarded than normal children. The reasons of malnutrition are not only due to poor nutritional status but also nonnutritional factors including negative neurotrophic effects and indirect factor such as immobility, endocrinological abnormalities or spasticity that energy requirements might be contributing factors. Several studies indicated that leptin which is produced by adipocytes, might regulate energy intake and expenditure. The aim of this study is to determine serum leptin levels in children with CP and to investigate the relationship between nutritional status and anthropometric measurements.

METHODS: Forty children with CP and 18 healthy controls were included in this study. The weight, height, body mass index (BMI), upper arm length (UAL) and triceps skinfold thickness (TST) was measured in all children. Serum leptin, growth hormone, C-peptide and cortisol levels were studied. Based on TST measurement CP patients were divided as DSF group (decreased subcutaneous fat) and non-DSF group (nondecreased subcutaneous fat).

RESULTS: UAL were shorter and TST measurements were thinner than control group (p<0.05, p<0.01). Group DSF had lower leptin concentrations compared to Group non-DSF and controls (p<0.001, p<0.001). On the other hand non DSF group had higher leptin levels than controls (p<0.05). There was a positive and significant correlation between leptin and anthropometric measurements, especially TST in children with CP. Serum leptin levels were also lower in non-ambulatory children than ambulatory children with CP (p<0.05).

CONCLUSION: This study has shown that triceps skinfold thickness is better index for the evaluation of nutritional status in children with CP. Serum leptin levels were lower in CP, especially in DSF group. The possible explanation of this finding may not only related with malnutrition, but also immobility related other factors such as bone metabolism and spasticity. We concluded that leptin which regulates energy intake might have a role of nutritional disorders in cerebral palsy. To better understand this relationship further studies are needed.

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