Objectives: Gross motor skills (GMS) are a vital component of a child's development. Monitoring levels and correlates of GMS is important to ensure appropriate strategies are put in place to promote these skills in young children. The aim of this study was to describe the current level of GMS development of children aged 11-29 months and how these levels differ by age, sex, BMI and socio-economic status. Design: Cross-sectional study. Methods: This study involved children from 30 childcare services in NSW, Australia. GMS were assessed using the Peabody Developmental Motor Scales Second Edition. Prevalence was reported using the gross motor quotient and both raw and standard scores for locomotor, object manipulation and stationary subtests. Socio-demographics were collected via parent questionnaires. Analyses included t-tests, chi-square tests, one-way ANOVA and linear regression models. Results: This study included 335 children (mean age = 19.80 ± 4.08 months, 53.9% boys). For the gross motor quotient, 23.3% of the children scored below average. For the GMS subtests, 34.3% of children scored below average for locomotion, 10.1% for object manipulation and 0.3% for stationary. Boys were more proficient in object manipulation than girls (p = 0.001). GMS were negatively associated with age and a higher socio-economic status (all p < 0.05). There were no associations for BMI. Conclusions: This is the first descriptive study to show the prevalence of below average at locomotor skills in toddlers is higher than reported in normative samples. Early commencement of GMS promotion is recommended with a focus on locomotor skills and girls' object manipulation skills.
Available for download on Tuesday, May 19, 2020