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NEW YORK (Reuters) -- Children who habitually walk on their toes may
have significant delays in their speech and language development,
according to a small
of preschool children.
The seemingly benign action may be a sign of deficits that could pose
trouble for children in school if not diagnosed and corrected with
speech and language therapy, according Dr. Lisa H. Shulman, and
colleagues from the Hospital for Joint Diseases in New York City.
"The children in our study demonstrated delays in multiple
developmental areas," the researchers write in the April (97) issue of The
Journal of Pediatrics. "Significant language delays were the most
prevalent, occurring in more than 75% of cases."
"Delays were also found in the fine motor, visuomotor, and gross motor
abilities, but to a lesser extent," they add. Motor skills have to do
with movement -- either of large muscle groups, as in walking (gross
motor), or control of precise movements, as in holding a pen or turning
Although these problems would most likely surface as the child gets
older and goes to school, catching the problem early is
Toe-walking may provide a simple, but valuable sign to parents and
pediatricians that helps pinpoint the problem prior to school
"It is our recommendation that all children with idiopathic (no known
cause) toe-walking... should be referred for developmental
assessment," the team conclude.
The children in the study had no signs of illness or retardation, but
toe-walking sometimes can be indicative of cerebral palsy, various
brain disorders, spinal injury, muscle weakness and autism. It may
also stem from physical birth defects or problems encountered when the
child first learns to walk such as improper flexing of the ankle or a
deformity of the foot that prevents the child from putting his or her
foot flat on the floor.
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