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Pediatr Rehabil. 2006 Apr-Jun;9(2):158-64.

Physical activity patterns in children with and without Down syndrome.

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Public Health Sciences, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston Salem, NC, USA.



To describe physical activity (PA) patterns in children with Down syndrome (DS) compared to their unaffected siblings.


Children with DS (n = 28) and their siblings (n = 30), between 3-10-years (mean +/- SD 7.1 +/- 2.1 years) participated in a nutrition and growth study. PA was measured over 7 days using accelerometers.


Children with DS were younger (6.6 vs. 7.1 years) and heavier (BMI 18.4 vs. 16.7 kg m(-2)) than their siblings (p < 0.05). Overall, participants accumulated 2.5 hours per day in moderate- (MPA) and 59 min per day in vigorous-intensity activity (VPA), consistent with the current PA recommendations for children. Children with DS accumulated less VPA than their siblings (49.5 vs. 68.6 minutes per day; p = 0.04) and for shorter bouts (2.5 vs. 5.1 minutes per bout; p < 0.01), but spent similar time in MPA and low-intensity PA. Analyses adjusted for age, sex, race, ethnicity, income, maternal education and BMI showed similar results.


Children with DS participated in less total and sustained VPA and had higher BMI levels compared with their siblings. Because children with DS have a tendency toward childhood obesity, increasing participation in VPA may be appropriate for prevention of obesity and promotion of lifelong health.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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