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Neurological Disorders Anthropometrics

Anthropometric measurements are often used to help assess the nutritional status of patients with neurological disorders.

The following measurements should be utilized:

  • Weight
  • Height/length
  • Length segments
  • Mid-upper arm circumference
  • Subcutaneous folds

Using weight and height/length, the corresponding z-scores and percentiles may be calculated. Using the cerebral palsy (CP) growth charts allows for the child with CP to be compared to peers rather than to children without a neurological impairment who may grow differently.1 In Canada, CP growth charts are typically used to evaluate the development of children with CP.

It is necessary to carry out a follow-up at least every 6 months, and frequency may be increased with very young children.

We have developed a range of resources to support you in this area of practice, from demonstration videos to step by step guides.

Anthropmetric measurements in children with cerebral palsy - Jodi Wolff

Anthropometrics - Arm span measurement demonstration video

Anthropometrics - Mid-upper arm circumference measurement demonstration video

Anthropometrics - Triceps skin fold measurement demonstration video

Anthropometrics - Tibial length measurement demonstration video

Further testing may be helpful

If there are specific concerns you or your patient’s caregivers have, you may want to refer to other healthcare professionals to perform the following additional tests:2

  • Hematological and biochemical analysis
    • May include the following: protein (albumin and prealbumin), iron and zinc levels as well as Ca, P, Mg, ALP, PTH, vitamin D and B12, folic acid, Na, K, urea, Cr, glycemia and liver enzymes
    • If possible, analysis should be completed on an annual basis
  • Bone mineral density
  • Observation of ingestion and videofluoroscopy
    • To assess the presence of dysphagia
  • Endoscopy
    • To assess the presence of esophagitis

Osteoporosis risk
Bone mineral density may need to be considered because of risk of osteoporosis.


  1. Brooks J, Day S, Shavelle R et al. Low weight, morbidity and mortality in children with cerebral palsy: new clinical growth charts. Pediatrics. 2011;128:e299–307.
  2. Romano C, van Wynckel M, Hulst J et al. European Society for Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition Guidelines for the Evaluation and Treatment of Gastrointestinal and Nutritional Complications in Children with Neurological Impairment. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2017;65(2):242-64.