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Transforming the Lives of Children with Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is the most common pediatric disease in China.

Of 12 million babies born in China in 2020, about 29,760 were born with cerebral palsy. Sadly, 60% of children with cerebral palsy are affected by malnutrition, swallowing problems, gastroesophageal reflux, and constipation, all of which have a huge effect on children’s quality of life.

For the last two years, Nestlé Health Science has been supporting a collaborative effort between the Chinese health system and experts in Italy with a goal to enable early identification of malnutrition. This collaboration aims to create processes that help improve the lives of children with cerebral palsy.

A vital survey

A survey was launched to analyse Chinese health professionals’ awareness of nutritional management in young patients with neurological disabilities. The ESPGHAN (European Society of Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition) guidelines provided a benchmark, and the survey involved more than 550 healthcare professionals in 28 of China’s 35 provinces.

The results highlighted the need for a multidisciplinary approach and standardized Chinese guidelines.

“This survey has helped us to understand that the pediatric world in China has recognized the importance of nutritional management in children with neurological impairments.”
- Prof. Li Hong, Clinical Nutrition specialist at Shanghai Children's Medical Center, China.

Early improvements

Thanks to the survey, clinicians across China have begun to incorporate nutrition into their daily practice in treating children with cerebral palsy, leading to a better quality of life for patients and their families.

"I am particularly pleased with the results [of this] extensive clinical research project,” said Prof. Claudio Romano, Vice-President of SIGENP (Italian Society of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition). “We are getting closer and closer to the final goals that unite us: to optimize and improve the overall medical care related to clinical nutrition in China and globally, and the quality of life and survival of children with cerebral palsy."

Looking to the future

We understand that inequality in Chinese healthcare remains a concern, so we’re continuing to work towards reducing this gap by promoting international guidelines and hosting a medical and scientific education program.

A Real-World Evidence study is also taking place, involving the University of Messina and 17 Chinese centers of excellence, along with the support of Nestlé Health Science. It will be another crucial step towards further developing the standardization of clinical nutrition management practices in patients with cerebral palsy in China.