Nutritional status of the Iranian children with physical disability: A cross-sectional study
Tirang R. Neyestani
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Background: Malnutrition can potentially prone a disabled child to further morbidities thus imposing further suffering to the affected child and his/her family. This is the first report on the nutritional status of physically disabled children from Iran. Methods: A total of 290 physically disabled children aged 6-12 yeas old, of both sexes, and from all specialized schools in Tehran, Meshed and Rasht were enrolled in a descriptive cross-sectional study. Dietary assessment was performed for disabled children using 24hr and food-frequency questionnaires. Weight and height were assessed and body mass index (BMI) was calculated for all subjects. Results: In disabled children, while the mean energy intake was more than 90% of the amount required, mean calcium and iron intakes were 75.8% and 58.7% of the corresponding required amounts. Despite absence of significant difference in energy and fat intake, the intakes of protein, calcium and riboflavin were significantly lower in girls than in boys. Z score of weight showed that over 40% of disabled girls and boys were underweight. Comparison with anthro-pometric data from other studies showed that low weight was more prevalent in disabled than in non-disabled children (p < 0.001). Moreover, both disabled boys and girls had significantly shorter statures than their non-disabled counterparts. Conclusions: Malnutrition (low weight and stunting) is quite prevalent among Iranian children with motor disabilities and it is more prevalent in girls than in boys. It seems that poor food composition is a more important contributing factor than total low calorie intake. These data warrants further studies.