AIM: Gross motor skills are important for children's health and development. Delays in these skills are a concern for healthy developmental trajectories and therefore early identification of delay is important. This study screened for gross motor delay in children from low-income communities and investigated potential risk factors associated with gross motor delay.
METHODS: This cross-sectional study involved 701 pre-schoolers (Mage = 54.1 ± 8.6 months, 52.8% boys) from childcare services in low-income and remote communities in Australia. Gross motor delay was assessed using the Ages and Stages Questionnaire - third edition. Potential risk factors included: sex, age, birthweight, prematurity status, weight status, childcare service, postcode, parent's education, parent's marital status, parent's employment and family income.
RESULTS: Results showed 4.4% of the children were delayed in gross motor skills and 8.8% were at risk of delay. Logistic regression showed being a boy (odds ratio (OR) 1.78, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.12-2.84), underweight (OR 2.72, 95% CI 1.18-6.30) or overweight (OR 1.83, 95% CI 1.00-3.33), and parental unemployment (OR 1.79, 95% CI 1.01-3.16) were factors associated with a higher odds of children being delayed or at risk of gross motor delay. A higher family income (OR 0.35, 95% CI 0.13-0.93) was associated with lower odds of delay.
CONCLUSION: This unique study demonstrated children in low-income communities, especially boys, underweight and overweight children, have higher odds of being at risk of gross motor delay. Therefore, early screening is vital in this population in order to identify delays and potentially intervene with appropriate motor skill interventions.