Scientists have identified a link between specific genes and developmental coordination disorder (DCD), also known as dyspraxia.
New research, led by Oxford Brookes University, which looked at specific genes, could provide vital information about the biology of dyspraxia – a common motor coordination condition.
The research paper, Genome Wide Association Study of Motor Coordination, is published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.
DCD can impact a child’s handwriting and coordination skills, such as tying a shoelace or catching a ball. The condition can limit school achievement, impact cognitive development, constrain career opportunities, and increase a child’s risk of developing mental health issues. Although the condition is common, very little is known about why some children struggle with motor coordination.
Understanding the causes of DCD
Scientists examined genetic data from over 4,000 participants in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children who had their motor coordination tested when they were seven years old. These data were used to link common genetic variants with motor coordination difficulties, allowing them to better understand the genetic and cellular processes that are involved in DCD.
Dr Hayley Mountford, Research Fellow in the Department of Biological and Medical Sciences at Oxford Brookes University and lead author of the study, said: “If we can identify genes, we can use this information to understand why some children develop DCD.”
The biology of DCD
Many children with motor coordination difficulties remain undiagnosed and, coupled with a lack of research, this has a vast impact on the visibility of DCD in both the public and the medical community.
“Although this is a preliminary study, these findings show a clear potential for genetics studies to unravel the underlying biology of DCD,” added Dr Mountford.
“We need to replicate these findings in larger datasets to uncover the reasons why some children are at a higher risk. This will lead to developments in the diagnosis of DCD, improving the lives of affected families.”