Most Idiopathic Toe-Walkers Stop Spontaneously by Age 5.5 Years

Toe-walking prevalence higher among children with developmental delay, neuropsychiatric diagnosis

MONDAY, July 23 (HealthDay News) -- Idiopathic toe-walking at age 5.5 years is more prevalent among children with a neuropsychiatric diagnosis or developmental delay, according to a study published online July 23 in Pediatrics.

Pähr Engström, M.D., and Kristina Tedroff, M.D., Ph.D., from the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, assessed 1,436 5.5-year-old children (750 boys and 686 girls) for walking on their toes. An additional 35 5.5-year-old children with special needs were evaluated; 17 of these children had a cognitive or neuropsychiatric disorder but no motor disorder.

The researchers found that 30 children (2.1 percent; 20 boys and 10 girls) were active toe-walkers at age 5.5 years. Forty children (2.8 percent; 22 boys and 18 girls) were no longer walking on their toes but previously had and were considered inactive toe-walkers. At age 5.5 years, the total prevalence (active and inactive) of toe-walking was 70 of 1,436 children (4.9 percent), but the total prevalence was much higher for children with a neuropsychiatric diagnosis or developmental delay (seven of 17; 41.2 percent).

"This study establishes the prevalence and early spontaneous course of idiopathic toe-walking in 5.5-year-old children. At this age, more than half of the children have spontaneously ceased to walk on their toes," the authors write. "This study confirms earlier findings that toe-walking has a high prevalence among children with a cognitive disorder."

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