Association of childhood psychomotor coordination with survival up to 6 decades later

G. David Batty, Ian J. Deary, Mark Hamer, Philipp Frank, David Bann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


IMPORTANCE:Poorer performance on standard tests of motor coordination in children has emerging links with sedentary behavior, obesity, and functional capacity in later life. These observations are suggestive of an untested association of coordination with health outcomes, including mortality. OBJECTIVE:To examine the association of performance on a series of psychomotor coordination tests in childhood with mortality up to 6 decades later. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS:The British 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 9 tests at ages 11 and 16 years. Data analysis for the present study was conducted from October 2016 to December 2019. MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES:All-cause mortality as ascertained from a vital status registry and survey records. RESULTS:In this birth cohort study of 17 415 individuals who underwent a series of psychomotor coordination tests in childhood, follow up was conducted over several decades. Of the analytical sample of 12 678 individuals, 51% were male, and 72% came from a lower social group. Mortality surveillance between ages 12 and 58 years in an analytical sample of 17 062 men and women yielded 1072 deaths (766 661 person-years at risk). In survival analyses with adjustment for sex, higher scores on 7 of the 9 childhood coordination tests were associated with a lower risk of mortality in a stepwise manner. After controlling for early-life socioeconomic, health, cognitive, and developmental factors, lower mortality was statistically significantly associated with 3 tests: ball catching at age 11 years (0-8 vs 10 catches: hazard ratio [HR], 1.57; 95% CI, 1.19-2.07), match-picking at age 11 years (>50 vs 0-36 seconds: HR, 1.33; 95% CI, 1.09-1.63), and hopping at age 16 years (very unsteady vs very steady: HR, 1.28; 95% CI, 1.01-1.63). CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE:The results of this cohort study suggest that childhood motor coordination is associated with lower mortality up to middle-age; these findings require replication.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere204031
Pages (from-to)1-12
JournalJAMA Network Open
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2020


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