In the article “Motor coordination difficulties and physical fitness of extremely-low-birthweight children,” written by Yvonne Burns, Marcella Danks, Michael O’Callaghan, and Peter Gray (2009), the topic of how children are affected by extremely low birth weight (ELBW) as adolescence. The study they conducted looked specifically at the motor coordination and the physical fitness of these children within the age range of 11 to 13 years (Burns, et al., 2009). Two different groups of children were assessed.
One of the groups was made up of 54 ELBW children (mean gestational age of 26.6 weeks), and the other was made up of 55 children (mean gestational age of at least 37 weeks). Both groups underwent a series of tests to determine postural strength and stability, growth levels, and respiratory function. The ultimate conclusion was that the ELBW group exhibited much stronger issues in the areas postural stability and motor coordination (Burns, et al., 2009). While there were also differences between the two groups regarding respiratory function, this was not the strongest of correlations. The largest indicator of impaired functioning on the ELBW group, compared to the non-ELBW group was in the arena of motor coordination (Burns, et al., 2009).

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Concerning my personal stand on this topic, I believe it makes sense that ELBW babies will develop with issues related to postural strength and stability, growth levels, and respiratory function. It seems reasonable to assume that if an infant does not spend the maximum amount of time required for fitness in the womb, then there will inevitably be areas of physical weakness in later years. However, I am wondering why the time period between 11 and 13 years was important. Was this the area in which the affects of ELBW would be most apparent? Have children stopped growing (or slowed down in the growing process enough) to be able to determine long-term affects? Is it possible that these affects will be even greater as the child continues to mature? I am very curious about these questions, and their possible answers. Given that, it seems as though more research could be conducted on this topic to get an even clearer understanding of ELBW on children as they mature.

Although I have not spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about these issues, I have learned quite a bit from this study. This research has led me to believe that there are many factors that need to be addressed when determining the long term health and physical fitness of a human being. As seen in the previous paragraph, I have many questions however. I am also curious to know if the behaviors of the birthmother and birthfather have much to do with children experiencing ELBWs. If this is the case, can studies like this be used to educate prospective parents, and those already in the process of creating new life? This research leads me to question, “Why is this happening?” and “What can we do to help children with ELBWs become stronger?” I believe that as long as science continues to ask these questions, and continues to do the research, we will have greater opportunities to avoid the prevalence of ELBW children being born, and for those being born, we can give them a better chance at having a long and healthy life.

  • Burns, Yvonne R; Danks, Marcella; O’Callaghan, Michael J; & Gray, Peter H. (2009).

    Motor coordination difficulties and physical fitness of extremely-low-birthweight

    Children. Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology, 51(2), 136.