Every month, Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology’s Editor in Chief, Bernard Dan, identifies one key paper as the Editor’s Choice.


Physical activity and sedentary behaviour in children with spina bifida

Everett A Claridge, Manon A T Bloemen, Rosanne A Rook, Joyce Obeid, Brian W Timmons,  Tim Takken, Rita J G Van Den Berg‐Emons, Janke F De Groot, Jan Willem Gorter

Aim To describe active and sedentary time in children with spina bifida and to compare their physical activity on weekdays versus weekends.

Method In this exploratory cross‐sectional study, data from 13 Canadian and 22 Dutch children with spina bifida (14 females, 21 males; mean age 10y 11mo, standard deviation [SD] 3y 6mo, range 5y 6mo–18y; Hoffer classification distribution: community [n=28], household [n=3], non‐functional [n=3], and non‐ambulator [n=1]) were analysed. Objective measures of physical activity and sedentary behaviour were obtained by using ActiGraph or Actiheart activity monitors. Data for the participants wearing the ActiGraph were compared with age‐ and sex‐matched controls that were developing typically using independent‐samples t‐tests. Activity data collected on weekdays was compared to those on weekends.

Results ActiGraph data demonstrated children with spina bifida spent more time sedentary (mean [SD] 49.5min/h [5.78]) and less time in moderate to vigorous physical activity (mean [SD] 2.33min/h [1.61]) compared with the typically developing group (mean [SD] 41.0min/h [5.76] and 5.46min/h [2.13], p=0.001 and p<0.001 respectively). For both ActiGraph‐ and Actiheart‐derived data, physical activity and sedentary time were not significantly different between weekdays and weekends.

Interpretation Children with spina bifida have reduced levels of physical activity and increased sedentary behaviour, with no statistical differences seen between weekdays and weekends. Several methodological issues related to activity monitoring warrant consideration when choosing the appropriate method to quantify physical activity and sedentary behaviour.

What this paper adds

  • Reduced levels of physical activity and sedentary time were quantified in children with spina bifida.
  • Objective quantification of physical behaviour in ambulatory and non‐ambulatory school‐aged children with spina bifida is possible.

View the paper


Editor Podcasts

The Editor’s Podcasts present a conversation between one of DMCN’s editors and an invited guest on a theme drawn from a recent editorial. These podcasts seek to facilitate conversations between different disciplines and specialisms.

Bernard Dan speaks to Jaime Slaughter-Acey from the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota about Bernard’s editorial in the July 2019 issue of Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology: ‘What does race mean in neurodisability studies?’. The editorial can be read here.



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