(HealthDay News) – Idiopathic toe-walking at age 5.5 years is more prevalent among children with a neuropsychiatric diagnosis or developmental delay.

Pähr Engström, MD, and Kristina Tedroff, MD, PhD, 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%; 20 boys and 10 girls) were active toe-walkers at age 5.5 years. Forty children (2.8%; 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%), but the total prevalence was much higher for children with a neuropsychiatric diagnosis or developmental delay (seven of 17; 41.2%).

“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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