Determination of nutritional status of children with special needs: a pilot study
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CitationDemirci, Ü., Korkmaz P. M. & Mutlu, H. (2021). Determination of nutritional status of children with special needs: a pilot study. International Journal of Health Administration and Education (Sanitas Magisterium), 7(1), pp. 10-20.
Psychosocial and abnormal determinants in children and adolescents with special needs can be effective in feeding behavior. In children with special needs, the development of food selection or hypersensitivity observed very often. Studies made with these, children with Down syndrome being obese or overweight prevalence of approximately 33.5% - 43.5% rate, the prevalence of malnutrition in children with cerebral palsy is approximately 22.2% - 78.2% in the rates of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and it has been observed that children are more prone to be obese or overweight when compared to children with normal development. The number of studies in this field in our country is limited due to a variety of factor. Thus eating behaviour of individuals with special needs is not yet fully understood. The aim of our study was to evaluate children with special needs with the Eating Behavior Scale in children. The study sample consisted of 47 boys and 16 girls, ages between 6 and 18, who were clinically and cytogenetically diagnosed with developmental disorders and their legal guardians. The sample covers 6 different diagnostic groups (Down Syndrome, Mental Retardation, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Prader Willi Syndrome, Mentel Syndrome, and Cerebral Palsy). Adaptation and validation of the Childhood Eating Behavior Questionnaire, used in our research, made by Yilmaz R, et al which gives the results of subscale score and total scale score. Our study was carried out at a private Integrated Physical Activity Center. Evaluation of research data is done with Spss 25. The height, weight, and age average of the research participants were by order (133,33 cm ± 18,9)(40,6kg ± 19,49) and (10,71yrs ± 3,319). Furthermore, the average Body Mass Index was (22,17 ± 7,01) which is not within the recommended BMI values for children. There was no significant difference between the total nutritional behavior scores(P=0,155)) when the Eating Behavior Scale sub-scores according to gender and special needs groups were examined, the boys diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy groups had significantly higher Emotional Undernourishment Subscores and Picky Eating subscores compared to other children. No significant difference was found in girls according to their eating subscore and specific requirement type. In children with special needs, adequate and balanced nutrition is one of the main factors that increase the quality of life and prevents the development of diseases. Eating behaviors may differ according to diagnosis. Especially in children with Cerebral Palsy, emotional undereating and food selectivity should be taken into consideration during the treatment period. Thus diet plans should be adjusted to provide more energy, balance metabolism, compensate for deficiencies and increase digestion. In addition, partial or total enteral/parenteral nutrition treatments should also be taken under consideration in case of malnutrition, poor/unsafe oral intake or elevated needs, to provide adequate growth and development.