A test of the Environmental Stress Hypothesis in children with and without Developmental Coordination Disorder

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Objectives:This study examined several underlying mechanisms hypothesized by the Environmental Stress Hypothesis (ESH) to explain the association between probable Developmental Coordination Disorder (pDCD) and internalizing problems.Design/Method:A cross-sectional analysis involving 1206 children aged 12–14 years (79 pDCD, 6.6% of the sample) was conducted. Children received assessments of motor coordination, physical activity, BMI, global self-worth, and internalizing problems. Path analysis was conducted to examine overall model fit and sex differences.Results:The results showed significant sex differences in the underlying pathways connecting pDCD to internalizing problems, indicating more mediating pathways through physical activity, BMI and global self-worth in girls, compared to boys.Conclusions:Overall, we were able to find support for some of the pathways identified in the ESH in school-aged children. Results also suggest that the development of interventions may need to be sex specific.HighlightsSchool-aged children with pDCD have higher levels of internalizing problems.Internalizing problems in children with pDCD are mediated by physical activity, BMI, and global self-worth.The underlying mechanisms of internalizing problems are different between boys and girls.

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