This preliminary investigation examined the potential effects of low birth weight on motor performance in children. Seventeen pairs of children were matched by age and placed in one of five age groups (5-9 years). One of each pair weighed 2,200 grams or less at birth (low birth weight, LBW) and the other weighed more than 2,200 grams at birth (normal birth weight, NBW). Three types of data were collected: motor development data, reaction time data, and anthropometric data. Nine paired t tests were performed. To control for alpha level inflation, the Bonferroni technique was employed. The two groups did not differ significantly in present body weight. Tests of gross motor development found the NBW group to be more advanced in both locomotor skills and object control skills. With regard to triceps skinfold, again the NBW group was found to have greater values. No other between-group measurements of body composition were significant. In addition, girls were significantly higher than boys in percent body fat. These preliminary results suggest the LBW children lag behind their NBW peers in the development of the basic fundamental motor skills.
The authors are with the Human Performance Laboratory, Department of HPR, Wright State University, Dayton, OH 45435-0001.
Supported by the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation, Grant No. 6-510.