Relationship of anthropometric measurements and percent body fat mass to cardiovascular disease risk factors in adults with cerebral palsy

Emily Kivlehan*, Deborah Gaebler-Spira, Liqi Chen, Ariane Garrett, Nicole Wysocki, Christina Marciniak

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Introduction: Adults with cerebral palsy (CP) face high morbidity from cardiovascular disease (CVD). Of concern, classic screening parameters are inconsistent in identifying CVD risk in this population. Dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA), which provides direct measurements of fat mass (FM), may be an alternative screening method. Objective: To evaluate whether FM measurement with DEXA is feasible in screening adults with CP and compare FM and anthropometric measures to CVD risk factors. Design: Cross-sectional study. Setting: Outpatient rehabilitation hospital. Participants: Forty-seven adults with CP. Main Outcome Measures: Weight, height, waist circumference (WC), and hip circumference (HC) were measured; waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) and body mass index (BMI) were calculated. Blood pressure (BP), FM by DEXA, hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), and lipid measurements were obtained. Logistic regression models investigated odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) between anthropometric measurements/FM and CVD risk factors; correlations were assessed using Pearson correlation coefficients. Results: Elevated BP or hypertension diagnosis was present in 47.8%; HbA1c ≥5.7% in 22.2%; and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) level below optimal for 33.3%. DEXA FM was obtained in 29 of 47 participants, as surgical metal and positioning limited many studies. Excess FM was noted in 75.9% versus 41.3% overweight/obese by BMI. WC correlated with HbA1c (r = 0.46, p =.002), HDL (r = −0.36, p =.018), and triglyceride (TG) levels (r = 0.30, p =.045); however at-risk WC values were associated only with odds of elevated HbA1c (OR 8.53, 95% CI 1.46–50.05; p =.018). HC correlated with HbA1c levels (r = 0.38, p =.011) and systolic BPs (r = 0.35, p =.019); similarly, ORs for elevated HC were weakly associated with elevated HbA1c and BPs (OR 1.08, 95% CI 1.01–1.16; p =.024 and OR 1.07, 95% CI 1.01–1.14; p =.024, respectively). WHR correlated with TGs; however few TG levels were elevated. FM measures were not associated with at-risk lab values or BPs. Conclusions: DEXA FM measurements may not be feasible for CVD screening in many adults with CP. Although CVD risk factors are frequently present, anthropometric measurements commonly used for general population screening may not translate well to adults with CP.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)192-202
Number of pages11
JournalPM and R
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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