Effects of Comorbid Developmental Coordination Disorder and Symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder on Physical Activity in Children Aged 4–5 Years

Abstract

Developmental coordination disorder (DCD) is often comorbid with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). While children with DCD engage in less moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) compared to typically developing (TD) children, research pertaining to how ADHD affects this relationship is limited. We investigated the effect of ADHD on MVPA among children at risk for DCD (DCDr). 507 children aged 4–5 years (DCDr = 233, TD = 274) participated. Motor skills were assessed using the Movement Assessment Battery for Children-2nd edition (DCDr; ≤ 16th percentile), ADHD symptoms were assessed using the Child Behaviour Checklist, and Actigraph accelerometers measured MVPA over seven days. DCD did not negatively affect MVPA, however, after adjusting for ADHD symptoms, the effect of DCD became significant and was driven by symptoms of inattention. Symptoms of ADHD may be suppressing the negative effects of DCD on MVPA, highlighting the importance of assessing and controlling for ADHD symptoms in this population.

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Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank all of the CATCH study participants and their families as well as acknowledge the trainees and research staff who assisted with recruitment, scheduling, and data collection. The CATCH study is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (MOP 126015).

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Correspondence to John Cairney.

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James, M.E., King-Dowling, S., Graham, J.D. et al. Effects of Comorbid Developmental Coordination Disorder and Symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder on Physical Activity in Children Aged 4–5 Years. Child Psychiatry Hum Dev (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10578-021-01155-0

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Keywords

  • Motor coordination
  • Motor control
  • Motor behaviour
  • Attention‐deficit hyperactivity disorder
  • Physical activity