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Stability of balance performance from childhood to midlife

Blodgett, Joanna, Cooper, Rachel ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3370-5720, Pinto Pereira, Snehal and Hamer, Mark (2022) Stability of balance performance from childhood to midlife. Pediatrics. ISSN 0031-4005 (In Press)

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Abstract

Background: Balance ability underlies most physical movement across life, with particular importance for older adults. No study has investigated if balance ability is established in childhood nor if associations are independent of adult factors. We investigated associations between balance performance in early (age 10) and midlife (age 46), and whether associations were independent of known contributors to adult balance. Methods: Up to 6024 individuals from the 1970 British Cohort Study were included. At age 10, static (one-legged stand) and dynamic (backwards toe-to-heel walk) balance were categorized as poor, medium or high. Eyes open and closed one-legged balance performance (max:30seconds), was assessed at age 46 with five categories. Results: Poor static balance at age 10 was strongly associated with worse balance ability at age 46. Relative to the highest balance group at age 46 (i.e. eyes open and closed for 30s), those with poor static balance had a 7.07 (4.92,10.16) greater risk of being in the poorest balance group (i.e. eyes open <15s). Associations were robust to adjustment for childhood illness, cognition and socioeconomic position and adult measures of height, BMI, education, exercise, word recall and grip strength (adjusted relative risk (RR): 5.04 (95% CI: 3.46,7.37)). Associations between dynamic balance at age 10 and balance at age 46 were weaker (adjusted RR of poorest balance group: 1.84 (1.30,2.62)). Conclusion: Early childhood may represent an important period for maturation of postural strategies involved in balance, indicating the potential for early intervention and policy changes alongside existing interventions that currently target older adults.

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