The Preemie Growth Project

Sharing Vital Information About Nutritional Issues for Premature Babies & Special Needs Children

Crucial Case #3 (Cerebral Palsy, Failure to Thrive, Cognitive Impairment)

9 Year Old Cerebral Palsy,  Failure to Thrive, Cognitively Impaired Premature Girl – 2012

This case was instrumental in identifying the relationship between micronutrient (trace mineral) deficiency issues and Hypotonia/Failure to Thrive issues in a premature child. Later research would expand on the causes of deficiency issues, but the documented deficiency issues specific to premature infants were a key point in the evolving understanding of the importance of correcting nutritional deficiencies in this very vulnerable population.


  • When I met her in 2012 Jennifer was 9 years old and had been diagnosed with Spastic Cerebral Palsy.

–She weighed 44 pounds (chronic failure-to-thrive) with very little appetite.

–She was primarily confined to a wheelchair.

–She was unable to use her hands for her own care due to spasticity.

–She had cognitive impairments and was developmentally delayed.

–She also had mild sensory issues

  • Jennifer was born prematurely at 26 weeks, weighing 1 pound, 10 ounces.
  • Because she was a preemie, I told her parents about the project and the outcomes I had seen. Although she was much older than the other children in the project, I thought she might still have some lingering trace mineral deficiency issues.
  • She began taking 15 ml of the supplement in the spring of 2012.

No one was prepared for what happened next.

Six weeks later:

  • Jennifer had gained 6 pounds and grown an inch. Her appetite had noticeably increased.
  • She could stand up.
  • She had noticeably increased head, neck, and trunk strength.
  • Her hyperspastic hands began “relaxing”.
  • She reported cognitive improvement.
  • She reported increased fine motor skills.

Sixteen weeks

  • She had gained a total of 8 pounds and grown several inches.
  • She was no longer confined to a wheelchair and was able to navigate stairs (changed GMFCS level).
  • Her hands were no longer hyperspastic and her upper body strength appeared normal.
  • There was continued cognitive improvement.
  • Her sensory issues were reduced.

The changes in just 10 more weeks were astounding.


On June 20, 2011 physicians at Children’s Hospital of Michigan (Detroit) diagnosed Nathan* with Severe Hypotonia; with no head, neck, or trunk strength, he had classic “Floppy Baby Syndrome”.  You can read more about this condition here: Floppy Baby Syndrome on Wikipedia

Nathan had been born prematurely at 32 weeks gestation, weighing 4 pounds. 9 months old later, he weighed only 12 pounds and was meeting no developmental milestones.

His mother was told Nathan was going to be a quadriplegic, and would spend the rest of his life in a wheel chair; she was advised to start “mentally adjusting to their new life” because he would be formally diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy when he was two years old and there was nothing that could be done for him.

On June 22 Nathan’s mother started giving Nathan 15ml of the liquid trace mineral supplement brand named “PDCM 72+” and continued this amount daily.

Nathan began demonstrating improvement in muscle tone within 72 hours by sitting up unassisted in his bath. This was the first time he had ever met this common developmental milestone.  His mother noted an increase in appetite within one week, and documented muscular weight gain within two weeks.

Ten weeks after starting this protocol, Nathan weighed 22 pounds and took his first steps.

Currently age 5 (as of September 21, 2015), Nathan has no Cerebral Palsy symptoms.

He enjoys good health, plays baseball  and began kindergarten in September of 2015 as a completely developmentally normal child.

The 2011 cost of the supplement: $0.95 daily; $67 total.

To summarize:

  • Nathan was born at 32 weeks weighing 4 pounds (< 3% on the CDC Growth Charts)
  • At nine months, Nathan weighed 12 pounds (still < 3% on the CDC Growth Charts) and had met no developmental milestones
  • With 70 days of supplementation Nathan averaged an unheard of 2.29 ounces of weight gain daily
  • At almost one year, Nathan weighed 22 pounds (46% on the CDC Growth Charts) and was meeting appropriate developmental milestones as if he had been born full-term

Patient details were observed and documented by multiple clinical physicians and medical support staff.

Preemie Growth Project Executive Director Ida Briggs contacted multiple pediatricians, neonatologists, administrators at multiple noted medical schools and research hospitals, professional medical groups including AACPDM and ASPHGAN, multiple teams at the National Institutes of Health, the March of Dimes, local and state public health departments in Michigan, and advocated for investigation at the “Michigan Call to Action to Reduce and Prevent Infant Mortality Summit” but could not interest any of the more than fifty different people she interacted with into conducting a rigorous scientific investigation into the case.

Ms. Briggs was told repeatedly “floppy babies don’t get better” and “apparently, he was misdiagnosed.”  Later, when talking with a noted cerebral palsy researcher, Ms. Briggs was told “sometimes these things happen” which, in hindsight, most likely indicates a child has “self-corrected” their deficiencies through a better than normal family diet.

To date, the number of children with similar medical conditions who have improved through this intervention is in the hundreds. Statistically, the number helped continues to be “4 out of 5”.

*Not his real name