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Childhood coordination and survival up to six decades later: extended follow-up of participants in the National Child Development Study

By George David Batty, Ian J Deary, Mark Hamer, Stuart J. Ritchie, David Bann

Posted 13 Aug 2019
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/19004713

BackgroundPoorer performance on standard tests of motor coordination in children has emerging links with sedentary behaviour, obesity, and functional capacity in later life. These observations are suggestive of an as-yet untested association of coordination with health outcomes. ObjectiveTo examine the association of performance on a series of psychomotor coordination tests in childhood with mortality up to six decades later. Design, Setting, and ParticipantsThe National Child Development Study (1958 birth cohort study) is a prospective cohort study based on a nationally representative sample of births from England, Scotland and Wales. A total of 17,415 individuals had their gross and fine motor psychomotor coordination assessed using nine tests at 11 and 16 years of age. Main outcome and measureAll-cause mortality as ascertained from a vital status registry and survey records. ResultsMortality surveillance between 7 and 58 years of age in an analytical sample of 17,336 men and women yielded 1,090 deaths. After adjustment for sex, higher scores on seven of the nine childhood coordination tests were associated with a lower risk of mortality in a stepwise manner. After further statistical control for early life socioeconomic, health, cognitive, and developmental factors, relations at conventional levels of statistical significance remains for three tests: ball catching at age 11 (hazard ratio; 95% confidence interval for 0-8 versus 10 catches: 1.56; 1.21, 2.01), match-picking at age 11 (>50 seconds versus 0-36: 1.33; 1.03, 1.70), and hopping at age 16 years (very unsteady versus very steady: 1.29; 1.02, 1.64). Conclusion and RelevanceThe apparent predictive utility of early life psychomotor coordination requires replication. Key pointsO_ST_ABSQuestionC_ST_ABSWhat is the association of performance on a series of psychomotor coordination tests in childhood with mortality up to six decades later? FindingsAfter taking into account multiple confounding factors, lower performance on three gross and fine motors skills tests in childhood were associated with a shorter survival over six decades. MeaningThese findings require replication in other contexts and using complementary observational approaches.

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