Fine motor skills in pre-school children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia compared with healthy peers: a preliminary study
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During infancy children acquire abilities that could later predict positive school success. Three main areas have been investigated by recent studies underling long term effects of cancer disease in young children: cognitive sequelae (Shah et al., 2008; Lewis et al., 2013), motor performance delays (Scheede-Bergdahl et al., 2013; Götte et al., 2015), and social impairments (Tremolada et al., 2017). This study aimed at identifying more at risk developmental areas in preschool children after one year of treatments matching very young patients with healthy peers of same age and gender. Participants were 48 children and their families recruited at Haematology-Oncologic Clinic of the Department of Child and Woman Health (University of Padua), paired with healthy preschoolers contacted through pediatricians’ ambulatories. Children’s mean age was 4.36 years (SD=1.07, range=1.91-6 years), equally distributed by gender, mostly diagnosed of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (N=44). Participants were assessed with the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales (Balboni et al., 2003) a semistructured interview investigating communication, daily living skills, socialization and motor skills. Paired-sample t-tests revealed that the clinical group showed a lower performance on verbal communication, especially in receptive (t 47 = - 5.40; P = .001) and expressive language (t 47 = - 5.42; P = .001), social domain (t 47= - 5.52; P = .001) and gross (t 47 = - 2.38; P = .002) and fine motor skills (t 47 = - 1.93; P = .05). Findings of this study reveal that already one year after treatments ALL children need to fill the gap with healthy peers on communication skills and motor performance. Taking into account the importance of these domains on later academic achievement, specialized interventions for parents and for cancer children are suggested to fill the delays on these developmental pathways.