Journal Article

Association of gestational age at birth with subsequent suspected Developmental Coordination Disorder in early childhood


Importance. It remains unknown whether children born at different degrees of prematurity, early-term and post-term might have a higher risk of developing Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) compared to completely full-term children (39-40 gestational weeks). Objective. To differentiate between suspected DCD in children with different gestational ages based on a national representative sample in China. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS We conducted a retrospective cohort study in China from 2018 to 2019. A total of 152,433 children from 2,403 public kindergartens in 551 cities of China aged 3-5 years old were included in the final analysis. The association between gestational age and motor performance was investigated. A multi-level regression model was developed to determine the strength of association for different gestational ages associated with suspected DCD when considering kindergartens as clusters. Main outcomes and measures. Children’s motor performance was assessed using the Little Developmental Coordination Disorder Questionnaire (LDCDQ), completed by parents. Gestational age was determined according to the mother’s medical records. Results. Of the 152,433 children aged 3-5 years old, 80,370 (52.7%) were male, and 72,063 (47.3%) were female. There were 45,052 children aged 3 years old (29.6%), 59,796 aged 4 years old(39.2%), and 47,585 children aged 5 years old (31.2%). The LDCDQ total scores for very-preterm (β=-1.74, 95%CI: -1.98, 1.50; p<0.001), moderately-preterm (β=-1.24, 95%CI: -1.60, -0.89; p<0.001), late-preterm (β=-0.92, 95%CI: -1.08, -0.76; p<0.001), early-term (β=-0.36, 95%CI: -0.46, -0.25; p<0.001) and post-term children (β=-0.47, 95%CI: -0.67, -0.26; p<0.001) were significantly lower than full-term children when adjusting for child, family and maternal health characteristics. The very-preterm (OR=1.35, 95%CI: 1.23,1.48; p<0.001), moderately-preterm (OR=1.18, 95%CI: 1.02, 1.36; p<0.001), late-preterm (OR =1.24, 95%CI: 1.16,1.32; p<0.001), early-term (OR =1.11, 95%CI: 1.06,1.16; p<0.001) and post-term children (OR =1.167, 95%CI: 1.07, 1.27; p<0.001) were more likely to fall in the suspected Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) category on the LDCDQ compared with completely full-term children after adjusting for the same characteristics. The associations between different gestational ages and suspected DCD were stronger in boys and older (5 year old) children (each p<0.05). Conclusions and relevance. We found significant associations between every degree of prematurity at birth, early-term and post-term birth with suspected DCD when compared with full-term birth. Our findings have important implications for understanding motor development in children born at different gestational ages. Long-term follow-up and rehabilitation interventions should be considered for early- and post-term born children.

Attached files


Hua, Jing
Barnett, Anna L.
Williams, Gareth J.
Dai, Xiaotian
Sun, Yuanjie
Li, Haifeng
Chen, Guixia
Wang, Lei
Feng, Junyan
Cui, Bolin
Liu, Yingchun
Cao, Minhui
Zhang, Lan
Zhu, Ling
Weng, Tingting
Lin, Yao
Guan, Hongyan
Wang, Wenjing
Mao, Xujie
Gu, Yue
Zhou, Yingchun
Butcher, Andrew
Du, Wenchong

Oxford Brookes departments

Department of Psychology, Health and Professional Development


Year of publication: 2021
Date of RADAR deposit: 2021-10-13

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

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