Children diagnosed with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), or who were exposed to moderate to heavy amounts of alcohol prenatally, have triple the risk of gross motor (GM) problems compared to those with low exposure, according to a comprehensive review of previous studies, published in Pediatrics. GM skills are those requiring the use of large muscle groups to coordinate movement, such as walking, running, throwing and maintaining balance. Among the 10 studies in the meta-analysis, which included children aged 3 days to 13 years, GM impairment was consistently found regardless of the assessment tool used and across diverse settings and populations. The findings are important, say the authors, because children need GM skills to perform basic daily activities such as running to catch a school bus or balancing to get dressed. They conclude that GM assessment should be a standard part of FASD diagnosis and management, to enable early intervention.

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