Balance ability of 7 and 10 year old children in the population: results from a large UK birth cohort study

Rachel Humphriss, Amanda Hall, Margaret May, John Macleod

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE: The literature contains many reports of balance function in children, but these are often on atypical samples taken from hospital-based clinics and may not be generalisable to the population as a whole. The purpose of the present study is to describe balance test results from a large UK-based birth cohort study.

METHODS: Data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) were analysed. A total of 5402 children completed the heel-to-toe walking test at age 7 years. At age 10 years, 6915 children underwent clinical tests of balance including beam-walking, standing heel-to-toe on a beam and standing on one leg. A proportion of the children returned to the clinic for retesting within 3 months allowing test-retest agreement to be measured.

RESULTS: Frequency distributions for each of the balance tests are given. Correlations between measures of dynamic balance at ages 7 and 10 years were weak. The static balance of 10 year old children was found to be poorer with eyes closed than with eyes open, and poorer in boys than in girls for all measures. Balance on one leg was poorer than heel-to-toe balance on a beam. A significant learning effect was found when first and second attempts of the tests were compared. Measures of static and dynamic balance appeared independent. Consistent with previous reports in the literature, test-retest reliability was found to be low.

CONCLUSIONS: This study provides information about the balance ability of children aged 7 and 10 years and provides clinicians with reference data for balance tests commonly used in the paediatric clinic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)106-113
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology
Issue number1
Early online date13 Nov 2010
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2011


  • anthropometry
  • child
  • child development
  • Great Britain
  • postural balance
  • reproducibility of results


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