Children may not be blamed for being clumsy because in a recent study, clumsiness might be caused by stressful events during their mother's pregnancy with them.
The study which lasted for a good few years evaluated 2,900 children with varying ages from 10 to 14 and 17 years, wherein they were given a ten-item movement test. The test included abilities to stand on one foot, hand strength, turning a nut on a bolt, threading beads into a rod, and walking on a straight line.
The study also interviewed mothers-to-be when they were 18 weeks pregnant and followed up with another interview during the last few months of their pregnancy at 34 weeks.
The data the researchers gathered from the tests in the children showed that children born to mothers who had numerous stressful events during their pregnancies recorded the worst on all survey years.
"This is down to the accumulative effect of stress on the part of the child's brain called the cerebellar cortex which develops later in pregnancy," Academics at the University of Notre Dame Australia suggested. While any decreased motor development from the kids could be cause by ill-health.
The most common stressful event that the mothers suffered on their 34th week of pregnancy was money issues, which affected over a quarter of the interviewees. The second most common stress factor was suffering a difficult pregnancy. Other major stress factors listed were moving houses, marital concerns, and problems with other children.
The study reveals the importance of mental and emotional health of a mother-to-be, Beth Hands, co-author of the study and professor for human movement at the University of Notre Dame, Australia, said.
In earlier studies, the researchers used baby monkeys who were born with mothers who underwent maternal stress, and it revealed that the infant monkeys had reduced motor and balancing skills. The researchers theorize that cortisol might play an important role in causing the problem.